The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is one of the great art museums in the U.S., and a national treasure on which I am happy to see my tax dollars spent.
The NGA has long had a web presence, but it has never been quite what those of us who admire the museum’s collection might have liked, with small images of items in the collection and less than ideal presentation overall.
That has all changed, as the museum recently rolled out a beautiful new website.
Searching or browsing the collection is much easier, and many of the individual objects are now provided with zoomable high resolution images.
You can also still download images, as you could before, through the NGA Images database. Though the basic system for that hasn’t changed since my post on NGA Images in 2012, it is now more gracefully integrated into the main website.
I’ll point out again that though you can download a reasonably large image without an account, registering for a free account with a simple email address gives you access to wonderfully large high-resolution images.
As an example, an image of John Constable’s landscape, Wivenhoe Park, Essex (images above, third from bottom) can be downloaded without an account in a size from which I’ve taken the crop shown above, second from bottom. The bottom image shows a crop from the size available to those logged in to a free account (essentially the same as maximum zoom in the website interface, if you’re not concerned about downloading).
In addition to better presentation of exhibitions and items from the collection, there are other treasures to be found by looking around, with excellent features on subjects like Conservation Projects.
(By the way, the detail image of the hand from Vermeer’s exquisite Woman Holding a Balance in the examples above is not blurred; the extreme close-up just shows Vermeer’s brilliantly soft edges.)