The J. Paul Getty Museum has been a major presence in the dissemination of free scholarly information in digital format; it now is making available over 250 of its publications online via the Getty Virtual Library. This collection, that will be continually expanded, offers translated volumes, symposium proceedings, as well as exhibition catalogs and the J. Paul Getty Museum Journal. Searching is by author, title, keyword, subject area and program, along with other options.
Archive for Museums
This short work by the Secretary of the Smithsonian G. Wayne Clough – Best of Both Worlds: Museums, Libraries, And Archives in the Digital Age – highlights the responsibilities cultural and educational institutions have in disseminating their collections so that all individuals, regardless of their background, can benefit from our national treasures. “Certainly the challenges of digital transformation are formidable, but if museums, archives, and libraries can learn different behaviors, they can take on a new and elevated role. By combining the strengths of our physical collections with the potential afforded by digital technology, we can truly offer the best of both world.”(3)
MetPublications is the access point to the, at the time of this writing, 674 volumes of monographs, collection catalogs, and exhibition catalogs published by the Met since 1964. Almost 300 of these volumes are available in their entirety online. There are various searches available: author, title, collection, theme, keyword, etc. Every book entry includes “… a description and table of contents for almost every title, as well as information about the authors, reviews, awards, and links to related Met bibliographies by author, theme, or keyword.” One of the links that many books have is to the excellent Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History developed by the Met. And even if the book is not online, a substantial portion can be previewed through Google Books. (A link is provided in the book’s description.) This is the beginning of an ambitious project to make accessible all of its publications back to 1870. While we wait for that to transpire, the Internet Archive has online versions of hundreds of pre-1964 volumes (primarily before 1923) available.
Published under the auspices of the John S Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, the “Museums Cycle” features lavishly illustrated books centered on specific Greek archaeological museums. Written by experts, these works allow the reader access to the cultural legacy of Greece. Among the museums examined are: Thebes, Marathon, Olympia, Delphi, and Pella. A new volume is published each year; each volume is at least 300 pages in length (the Thebes volumes is 400 pages) and is accompanied by a bibliography. As of this writing, there are a baker’s dozen available with more planned.
More than 60 catalogs have been digitized and are available for viewing; they range from an exhibition on Alexander Calder to a 500 page volume on Chinese art through 5000 years. They can be searched by date, title, or subject. In addition, the museum is also devising The Syllabus which “…offers points of entry into the Guggenheim’s rich publication archives, with suggested readings on historical themes, topics, and trends, as well as links for further exploration.” This latter section is still under development and more content will be added over time.
The Met has dozens of special departments responsible for unique collections ranging from costume to American painting. At this site, you have the ability to search through more than 80,000 images with their descriptions. Do you want to see some treasures from the Cloisters? They are here. Charles Wilson Peale’s painting of George Washington? Got it. An eighteenth-century flintlock rifle? You can find it as well. This is a wonderful repository of cultural information suitable for any academic endeavor.
The Smithsonian Institute opened their 19th museum today, online. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will open to the public in 2012, but as of today, it has an online version.
The inaugural exhibit, Let Your Motto be Resistance, highlights the lives of African American activists, scholars and poets and includes images from the National Portrait Gallery. The “Share Your Memory” section of the museum allows users to upload family photographs and to tell their stories of triumph and resistance.