Brooklyn Museum on Google Art Project

Brooklyn Museum on Google Art Project: William Merritt Chase, Samuel Coleman, Claude Monet, Martin Johnson Heade, John Singer Sargent, Gustav Courbet, Childe Hassam, John Linton Chapman, Theodore Robinson
The Brooklyn Museum, as I reported back in 2010, is a terrific and underrated museum of art and artifacts that exists in the shadow of larger and better known museums in Manhattan.

The museum’s collection contains superb examples of American and European painting, some of which you can now view online in glorious detail by way of the Google Art Project.

Among the paintings in the museum is one of my all time favorites, “Studio Interior” by William Merritt Chase. This wonderful painting of a figure in an interior also contains a beautiful still life, as my detail crops from the Google Art Project enlargement show (images above, top three).

This link will give you the Brooklyn Museum page on GAP in small thumbnail mode (you can choose larger preview images at lower left). You may want to additionally click the “Filter” button at upper right, click “Filter by Medium” in the range that appears and mouse over the squares to choose a medium, such as “Oil Painting”, to narrow down the results.

As I usually do when directing readers to the amazing Google Art Project, I’ll issue my customary Time Sink Warning.

(Images above: William Merritt Chase [top three], Samuel Coleman, Claude Monet, Martin Johnson Heade, John Singer Sargent, Gustav Courbet, Childe Hassam, John Linton Chapman, Theodore Robinson)


1880’s paintings from Wikimedia Commons

1880's paintings from Wikimedia Commons: William Merritt Chase, Ivan Shishkin, Henryk Hector Siemiradzki, Willem de Zwart, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Burne-Jones, Jacob Maris, Giovanni Fattori, Ilya Repin, Vasily Polenov, Émile Schuffnecker, Edouard Manet
Taking another dip into the extensive art image resources on the Wikimedia Commons website, I’m once again finding delight in the ability to sort paintings by decade (or year) and browse a wonderful assortment of artists, subjects and styles.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, gleaning a few paintings off their generalized “1880’s paintings” page, from which you can dive into much greater detail going into individual years or artists.

Though the images are not as consistently large as, say, the Google Art Project, and the image quality is hit and miss — the extent, variety and ability to sort by various criteria make the site an art browsing treasure and a Major Time Sink.

(Images above: William Merritt Chase, Ivan Shishkin, Henryk Hector Siemiradzki, Willem de Zwart, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Burne-Jones, Jacob Maris, Giovanni Fattori, Ilya Repin, Vasily Polenov, Émile Schuffnecker, Edouard Manet)


J.M.W. Turner on Google Art Project

J.M.W. Turner on Google Art Project
More visual splendor from the terrific new version of the Google Art Project: over 236 artworks by Joseph Mallord William Turner from various museums, with which to mark his birthdate of April 23rd, 1775.

The images range from his luminous paintings, with their striking, light filled landscapes, to sketches, drawings and watercolors, both roughly indicated and polished.

I particularly enjoy being able to tour through some of his lesser known drawings in detail.

Though all of the images aren’t in the super-high resolution that is the hallmark of the best reproductions in the Google Art Project, all are at least large enough images to make seeking them out worthwhile.

There is a video on YouTube from the Frick Collection, that references the project and focuses on two of Turners harbor scenes.


Norman Rockwell Museum on Google Art Project

Norman Rockwell Museum on Google Art Project: Norman Rockwell, Howard Pyle, William Smedley,  Norman Rockwell, Charles Dana Gibson, Howard Pyle
Wow, am I ever enjoying the recently updated Google Art Project (as I reported recently).

Despite my own Time Sink Warning, I’ve been pulled back here way too often. I found this morning that among the cornucopia of art from the newly added museums is the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts.

The museum houses not only a broad collection of work from its namesake (which can be surprisingly diverse) but an excellent collection of work by other American illustrators. There is an article about the museum joining the project on New England Public Radio.

Though the number of pieces available on the GAP’s section for the museum is not extensive (presumably the number will grow), it’s a delight to be able to zoom in on classic illustrations like these. (Bear in mind that my screen captures have been greatly reduced in the images above, I’m just trying to give an idea of zooming scale.)

Now if only the Brandywine River Museum would follow suit.

(Artists above, with details: Norman Rockwell, Howard Pyle, William Smedley, Norman Rockwell, Charles Dana Gibson, Howard Pyle)


Google Art Project expanded

Google Art Project: Edouard Mane
Google has recently expanded and improved their already amazing Google Art Project, in which they use their Google Maps “Street View” tech to offer virtual tours of museum spaces, and, more importantly, offer beautiful, zoomable high resolution images of great works of art from world class museums.

Their recent expansion adds 150 museums and galleries to their list of participating institutions, including the National Gallery in London.

When I first reported about the Google Art Project in early 2011, they had roughly 1000 images available on the site, there are now over 30,000 (though not all in highest resolution).

They have also dramatically improved the interface, which was the weak point of the original implementation and sorely in need of revision.

Instead of dealing with that horrible little scrolling list (that never displayed right in browsers other than Chrome), you can now view actual list pages and look up Collections from museums and galleries, or browse by Artists or Artworks.

If you take the trouble to create a free account (you can probably sign in with a current Google account), you can keep personal galleries of favorites, not just bookmarked, but saved with a chosen zoom level and focus selection.

You can also browse a selection of User Galleries that have been made public (sort of like an art gallery specific Pinterest).

If you view the Details page for a given work there are often videos, audio commentary, maps and a range of text information about the work and the artist.

The interface can still be a bit slow and demanding of your computer and browser (and probably still works best in Chrome), but you may just need to be patient.

The Google Art Project was already an amazing resource and is now even better and more extensive by an order of magnitude.

It also gets my highest Major Timesink Warning.


(Images above: In the Conservatory, Edouard Manet from collection of Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

[Via The Guardian]


New Metropolitan Museum of Art website

New Metropolitan Museum of Art website
The websites of the world’s great art museums, as well as those for numerous smaller museums, serve as a resource both for visitors to the institution and for those who are interested in viewing and accessing online information about the artworks in the museum’s collections.

As someone who routinely scours the web in search of great art images, I can testify that art museum websites vary in quality and usefulness on those counts from good to disappointing to appallingly bad. It’s astonishing how many major museums allow their online presence to fall into the latter two categories.

The website for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, one of the world’s great art museums and one that has been fairly adept in its adaptation of modern technology, has always been something of a mixed bag — professional and competent, with lots of information online, some of it very well presented, but with a somewhat clunky search system, some frustrating dead ends, disappointingly small images and an overall feeling that things could somehow be better.

Evidently those responsible for the museum’s website have also been of the opinion that it could be better, and after what is undoubtedly a great deal of thought, planning and hard work, have just unveiled a new website that is likely the best major art museum website in the world.

The redesigned interface is elegant, understated and when presenting the artworks, quietly beautiful. The website has been reorganized, streamlined and made more usable at almost every level.

The new home page, which thankfully dispenses with the pointless splash page from the old site, offers easy access to a number of paths into the site’s contents without overwhelming or confusing the visitor.

The listings for exhibitions are likewise simplified and at the same time more graphically appealing, the search feature is drastically improved and much more useful than its predecessor, and the listings for individual objects are a brilliant combination of clear, uncluttered presentation and easy access to deeper levels of information.

The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, an online feature I have written about before, is not dramatically changed, but has been integrated into the other parts of the site more fully, putting this great resource to even better use.

A new MetMedia section collects videos, podcasts and web interactive features into an easy to use central interface.

Best of all perhaps, is the new image enlargement feature, in many cases replacing the disappointingly small images that used to represent the objects at their most detailed with a new full screen image viewer that is lightning fast and a joy to use.

I don’t know if the work was done in-house or by a third party design firm. If the latter, they deserve more recognition than the site gives them, but if the new site was created by museum staff, which I believe is the case, they just handed numerous high-end website design firms their lunch and sent them packing by showing them how a large scale website (of any kind) should be done. [Addendum: Lines and Colors reader Caz was kind enough to inform me that the site was designed by Cogapp, a design firm from Brighton, UK with offices in New York. The also designed the new website for the Barnes Foundation here in Philadelphia. My hat’s off to them.]

In the process there are few trade-offs; the horrible long-string URLs (web page addresses) for individual pages utilized by the old site, which were difficult to copy and paste, send to a friend, or add to an article, have been replaced by short, human-readable addresses. The downside for someone like me is that the dozens, if not hundreds of links I’ve made to the Met’s site over the last 6 years are now broken and have to be replaced, but I’ll gladly accept that for the easier to use addresses going forward.

For those who can physically visit the museum, not only are the exhibition listings and visitor information sections much improved, there is a new zoomable interactive museum map that allows you to pinpoint specific galleries within the museum and explore their contents, as well as suggested itineraries for those who can’t devote a week or two to exploring the museum’s extensive and extraordinarily rich collections.

Exploring the collections and works online is now a genuine pleasure, so much so that I will issue my Major Timesink Warning about visiting.

The elegance, ease of use and intelligent application of sophisticated interface design principles throughout make the new Metropolitan Museum of Art website a shining example that we can only hope many other art museums will aspire to emulate.

There is a press release about the new site here.