top 5 art museum collections online with rachael faust

SFMOMA's ArtScope

Growing up in a smallish town without a big museum, my family always had to travel to San Francisco to see museum quality art.  While those visits were very special because they were so rare, I was mostly reliant on books to form any sort of art historical knowledge.  I remember reading Gombrich’s The Story of Art when I was in high school and being blown away by all of the images….these weren’t things that I saw every day.  This is what is so incredible about so many museum collections online today — while viewing works online does not replace the real, authentic experience, it definitely provides the opportunity for work to be viewed and studied by anyone in any country in the world, as long as they have internet access.  Online collections and greater access to museums through new media are a sort of equalizer, leveling the inequalities and abating the elitism that used to be inherent to the study of art.  Today’s top 5 is from a very special guest, Rachael Faust, who is currently the Assistant Curator of Collections and Academic Programs at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, Seattle.  Through her research to transform the Henry’s online collection, she has compiled a fantastic list of museums in the U.S. that have created in her words, “innovative ways to access or interpret collection objects and help advance the potential of collections access.”
TOP 5 ART MUSEUM COLLECTIONS ONLINE – Art Museum Websites that Provide Easy & Engaging Access to their Permanent Collections

1.  San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: Artscope
Explore 3,500 objects from the SFMOMA collection, arranged in a continuous, map-like grid.  Users can zoom in on images, search by keyword or artist, or just have a look around. This feature allows for wandering and the chance to discover artworks users may never have seen before.

2.  Metropolitan Museum of Art: Connections 2011
Each Connections episode (a 4 minute video) explores a broad theme through the subjective and personal viewpoint of a MET staff member.

3.  Brooklyn Museum: Record completeness feature
This feature provides users a visual meter that indicates the completeness of the record and asks users to contribute information.  Here’s a 2010 blog post about this feature by Shelley Bernstein, Chief of Technology at the Brooklyn Museum.

4.  Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Remix
Allows users to search the collection by a curated tag cloud. The remix button in on the top left of the screen.  There’s also a way to select a letter from the alphabet and see a selection of artists. Here’s a quick blurb about the feature in a 2010 Flavorwire article.

5.  Indianapolis Museum of Art: Deaccessioned Artworks
IMA provides a list of deaccessioned objects along with an explanation about the museum’s deaccessioning process.  IMA is one of the only museums that provides this type of transparency.

My Top 5 list only includes art museums in the U.S. The list excludes collection-based exhibition websites, such as MoMA’s Abstract Expressionist New York; websites created specifically for net art, such as The Adobe Museum of Digital Media; and multi-institution, online collections initiatives, such as the Google Art Project or Smarthistory.

With a background in museum education and collections management, Rachael Faust is interested in how museum collections can become more accessible.  Faust is Assistant Curator of Collections and Academic Programs at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, where she manages the museum’s Study Center and collections presence online.  At the Henry, she is currently experimenting with ways to facilitate meaningful online access to collection objects and resources.  Faust holds an MA in Museum Studies from John F. Kennedy University in Berkeley and a BA in Art History/Criticism from the University of California, San Diego.

LACMA Remix Cloud

Have any online collections that you love?  Share it with us!

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