Tyler Green
Art-focused Journalism by Tyler Green

Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

Five ways art museums are delivering digitally

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  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art now has the best online collection in New York, just edging out the Frick. True, in a way this is faint praise: MoMA has only small parts of its collection online and what’s there is not always easy to find/use. The Guggenheim and the Whitney also keep online collection access at a pretty low level. The Hispanic Society of America has a website seemingly leftover from the 1990s. The Met has a lot of collection online, across lots of collection areas, and it now allows visitors to download high-resolution images of many works. (This is why Met > Frick for me; I’m not a fan of the Zoomify applet that the Frick uses.) Next up: Improving the search feature, which struggles with multi-word searches or combinations of artist + title: My last¬†search for Leon Golub instead delivered Velazquez.
  2. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia’s studio tour. OK, so the museum has only done this once: Yesterday, when it visited the studio of Charline von Heyl [above right], whose work is currently on view at the museum. But tweeting a studio visit with an artist is a good idea, one that I suspect many contemporary art institutions will copy.
  3. Embracing Tumblr. Whether it’s the Art Institute of Chicago smartly and awesomely Tumblring much of the work in its just-closed “Windows on the War: Soviet TASS Posters at Home and Abroad, 1941-1945″ show, the Art Gallery of Ontario posting its collection or SFMOMA reblogging visitors, art, or posting content from its digital archives, museums are realizing Tumblr can help them reach non-traditional (particularly young) audiences. Still the undisputed champ: The Albright-Knox’s Sol LeWitt Tumblr.
  4. Conservation features. Museums do a lot more than exhibit art — but don’t always effectively communicate such to their audiences. Conservation-related web videos and such have proliferated in recent years. The latest don’t-miss example: MoMA’s de Kooning “methods and materials” website section.
  5. Previews and teases: Last week SFMOMA revealed via its Twitter and Tumblr accounts that it would paint its atrium black for a new Jim Campbell installation. It’s a small item, but it helped build buzz for this.
  6. Update: There’s already one I forgot in the comments. I have a feeling there will be more….
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  1. Actually, I think the Menil-Whitney-Harvard collaboration to post their Artists Documentation Program online is the latest conservation feature — and in the Menil’s case, at least, a huge leap forward in communicating digitally with its audience:


  2. Is the Indianapolis Museum of Art just doing such an awesome job that they’ve now reached the point of cliche to include in such a list? It’s gotta be something like that, right? :)

    ArtBabble, IMA Dashboard, steve.museum, TAP (open source tool for museums to develop mobile tours), the list goes on. No?

    There are also a huge number of examples in great mobile applications, gaming and crowdsourcing. The list is overwhelming, but would include examples such as the Brooklyn Museum’s Click! or the Smithsonian’s Ghost of a Chance and Pheon.

    Just let me know if I’m off base. Otherwise I could go on!

  3. Erika says:

    Lori, please go on! These are great suggestions for all of us to check out.

  4. The Walters Art Museum has over 1/3 of its collections available online

    Per your Sept. 15 blog post:
    “Every once and a while an art museum (or two or three) does something so jaw-droppingly clever that in hindsight it seems like an obvious thing to do. So it is with the decision by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum and various entities at Yale University to make high-resolution images of art from their collections available for anyone to use, for any purpose, copyright-free”

  5. Carl says:

    The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center collaborate on an educator resource website ArtsConnectEd – http://www.artsconnected.org – that has a lot of their respective collections cataloged, as well as lesson suggestions and “art collections” around various topics.

  6. Pasquale says:

    There is also a very good Gothic architecture resource that Vassar Professor Andrew Tallon and some folks at Columbia have been working on. While not directly tied to a ‘museum’, it is definitely worth taking a look at: http://www.mappinggothicfrance.org/

    360 Panoramas, 3D images [glasses needed], structural simulations. It’s pretty nifty.

  7. […] Yesterday, over on his Modern Art Notes blog, Tyler Green did what he’s been doing for a while now: promoting the ways art museums should get more of their collection and exhibition info online with images, links, supporting material, using Tumblr, Twitter, etc.¬† So he extolled five museums who are “delivering digitally.” […]

  8. Golan Levin says:

    For a moment there — just a moment — I thought this article would present a list of ways in which art museums had successfully negotiated the inclusion of computer-based artworks and other forms of digital, interactive, virtual and online artforms.

    But, no: evidently the Met’s “online collection” refers to its web-based image database of antique vases and Italian drypoints — and not to its collection of inherently online (net.art and computer) works, of which, among more than 340,000 artifacts, it appears to have fewer than three. Well (slow clap), it’s a start.

    The information revolution has not only transformed HOW we transmit information, but WHAT we transmit as well; it has led to the development of entirely new forms of cultural expression that reflect the new aesthetic possibilities afforded by computer media, as well as artists’ critical concerns about the ways in which this revolution is shaping our lives. If museums hope to stay current, they will need to engage with this transformation. Creating an online digital archive of one’s ‘real art’ collection, or using a Twitter account to make timely announcements about events, while helpful, is not the same thing as grappling with the shift of digital culture.

    Take a look at the Whitney Artport, a (now frozen) collection of Net.Art curated by Christiane Paul, which is one of the few attempts by a major museum to collect and host online art.

  9. Judy Hamlton says:

    Another way art museums are delivering digitally that is catching on is the use of QR codes to link the physical art in the museums to extended digital works located online or providing video/audio walkthroughs or more info on the actual artists. Some very good examples of how this technology can be used are listed here by Judd Wheeler http://www.themobilists.com/2011/08/30/qr-codes-in-museums/

    A recommendation for anyone wanting to explore this tech is that they ensure that the content the QR code links to is designed to be used on a mobile device. Also,if the QR codes are created in such a way that they actually become art themselves, which has also become very popular, use a dynamic QR code generator system so the codes can easily be reused and relinked for new uses.

  10. […] Five ways art museums are delivering digitally | Tyler Green: Modern . Oct 25, 2011 Tyler Green's Modern Art Notes features news, journalism and criticism about art, art museums and art […]

  11. […] like museums are starting to do more than just put their collections and archives online. Now, at least one museum is working with an art e-commerce site to raise money, too. The online […]

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