Laboratory for Cognitive Research in Art History (CReA)

The aim of CReA is to expand art historical knowledge through the use of empirical and experimental methods.
The laboratory's projects deal with traditional art historical questions about artworks and their perception as well as transdisciplinary issues of empirical aesthetics, visual cultural analysis and museology.

Classical methods of art history are combined with digital humanities and social science approaches – from discourse analysis to database construction, from online questionnaires to open interviews and mapping. Research into eye movements conducted during art viewing is one area of special interest. In addition to the use of stationary and mobile eye trackers, we develop software solutions for data analysis. In some studies we also use measurements of electrodermal activity, facialEMG and EEG. Through this extended collection of methods, an interdisciplinary team and both national and international cooperation, the laboratory combines art history with cognitive science, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and computer science.

CReA was founded in 2006 at the University of Heidelberg – probably as the world's first lab of its kind at an art historical institute. Since the appointment of Prof. Rosenberg in 2009, it has been located at the Department of Art History at the University of Vienna. Lab projects have been funded by DFG, FWF, ÖAW and WWTF.