Regions and fields that can bring together state sponsorship, industry partners, science computing experience and resources will be at the forefront of a digital shift that reflects the world’s hierarchy of advanced industrialized nation-states and economies and their priorities. Already graduate students and researchers working in select fields can conduct large amounts of their research remotely and digitally, reducing costs for travel and archival work. Colleagues in humanities disciplines and fields of art history that successfully embark on the digital shift will be able to effortlessly scan through thousands of primary texts and images across centuries, perform statistical analyses on large pools of data, visualize complex relationships and correlations with geography and generate new genres of scholarship. Without a critical mass of systematically developed databases of historical texts, translations, and images with rigorous data quality controls and overlaying analytical tools, the way Islamic art history will be written will increasingly diverge from those fields of art history that embrace the digital shift more fully. This paper makes the case that the historiographical challenge which Islamic art historians face is not simply to consider and apply new theoretical frameworks, but to scrutinize and participate in the design and development of scholarly digital infrastructures, databases and analytical instruments specifically geared to the interests of Islamic art historians, while confronting the field’s archival legacies.