Thursday, November 15, 2012

Philadelphia Museum of Art on Google Art Project

Philadelphia Museum of Art on Google Art Project: James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Jan van Eyck, John Singer Sargent, Kano Hogai, Peter Paul Rubens, Eduard Charlemont, Canaletto
The already amazing Google Art Project, which brings us beautiful zoomable full-screen high-resolution images of highlights from many of the world’s great museums, continues to get more amazing as more museums are added to the list.

This is particularly valuable as many of the museums featured do not provide large images of works in their collections on their own websites.

One of the more recently added museums is the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

This is the first time I’ve seen the GAP collection highlight choices for a museum for which I am familiar with a not insignificant percentage of the collection, and I have to say the choices left me puzzled and wondering about how these selections are made in general.

While some of the selections from the PMA are indeed representative of the gems in the museum’s world-class collection, others left me scratching my head (above which hovered a though balloon containing a bright neon blinking “WTF?!”).

Again and again I found myself thinking: “They choose this piece when all of these other amazing works are in the collection?”. And I’m not just talking about leaving out some of my personal favorites (they included some and left out many, but that’s to be expected); I’m thinking in terms of works from the same era, medium and genre as some of the works chosen that would have been much better representations of the museum’s collection.

In some ways it’s almost as if some of the best pieces were deliberately held back (and these are in the public domain so it’s not a question of rights), or even as if selections were in some ways made at random.

It makes me wonder now about the selections from other museums throughout the Google Art Project.

At any rate, optimal selections or not, there are enough gems to keep you dazzled and fascinated for a good while, particularly in light of the ability to zoom way in on these images in high resolution.

As usual with the Google Art Project, I’ll give you my Timesink Warning.

(Images above: James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Jan van Eyck, John Singer Sargent, Kano Hogai, Peter Paul Rubens, Eduard Charlemont, Canaletto)

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