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Once upon a time, our big museums were the “quiet cars” of a fast-track American culture industry. Like libraries, they were places where the volume was low, the energy slow, the technology unobtrusive. You came to them to look, to think and, in the days before museums became the prime social spaces they are now, to be alone in a small, like-minded crowd. You could take a little art home by hitting the postcard rack in the gift shop. But the only way you would retain most of what you saw was by spending time in the galleries and imprinting things on your brain.

That model is pretty much a generational memory now. Today, millions of people stream through major museums, filling the air with a restless rustle and buzz. They move through galleries fast and with a new purpose — cellphones in hand, they’re on Instagram treks and selfie hunts — and with a new viewing rhythm: Stop, point, pose, snap. If you want, you can even take the tour remotely, virtually, as more and more institutions make their collections accessible on the Internet...

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The Shaker Museum│Mount Lebanon has launched a newly digitized online catalog of historic photography as a part of its ongoing effort to make available online a full catalog of its collections. The project has been supported by a $25,000 grant from the Leon Levy Foundation.

The museum’s catalog records and presents the richest historical information, including scenes of Shaker villages from the mid-late 19th Century, as well as a collection of stereograph images from this early period by James Irving, a Troy, NY-based photographer. Viewers are able to see a larger version of each image with accompanying historic information and details and from links in the online catalog can share the records with friends or contact the museum with comments or questions.

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The Lens Media Laboratory (LML), a new research facility that will apply scientific principles to the characterization and conservation of photographs and other lens-based media, has been created as part of the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH), a center dedicated to improving the science and practice of conservation globally. Paul Messier, a renowned photography conservator, will join Yale as the inaugural head of the LML. Funding for the endowed directorship and laboratory start-up has been provided by an anonymous donor.

“This extraordinary gift will catalyze the development of new methods for scholars to classify, preserve, and interpret photographs and other lens media, both physical and digital,” said Stefan Simon, director of the IPCH. “In Paul Messier, we have successfully attracted one of the foremost experts in the world, whose track record of working across a diverse range of constituencies and disciplines — from museums to individual collectors and humanities to the sciences — will be a tremendous asset to this endeavor.”

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Thursday, 15 January 2015 10:42

The Whitney Expands Its Online Database

Last week, the Whitney Museum massively overhauled its online database. The museum of American art expanded its online collection from a paltry 700 works to around 21,000. The digital reserve now includes over 3,000 pieces by Edward Hopper, in addition to offerings from a wide swathe of art from the United States, including the likes of Mike Kelley and Martin Wong.

This virtual expansion comes on the heels of "Matisse," a cinematic rendering of the Matisse cut-out show on display at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) through February 10. The film, which includes footage from both the MoMA show and the earlier exhibition at the Tate Modern in London, is part of the “Exhibition on Screen” project, which “brings blockbuster art exhibitions from galleries around the world to a cinema near you,” according to the initiative’s website.

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On Wednesday, December 10, Google announced that it has established a platform that allows museums to share their exhibitions with smartphone users. The Google Cultural Institute, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting culture online, partnered with eleven museums and institutions in Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Nigeria, to launch the pilot project. The apps are available for free on the Google Play Store.

The platform helps museums bring their exhibitions into the digital realm by assisting in the creation of smartphone-accessible mobile applications -- Google handles coding and app development and provides participating institutions with tools such as the 360 Indoor Street View and YouTube.

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Cibo, an integrated brand experience agency, today announced they have been selected by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) as their experience design partner to help shape the museum’s digital future as part of its major expansion to open in 2016.

“We’re delighted to have Cibo as a partner,” said Keir Winesmith, Head of Web and Digital Platforms at SFMOMA. “Their team stood out from our first meeting for their thoughtful approach, incisive questions and crucially, their commitment to a long term relationship with the museum.”

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Thursday, 20 March 2014 10:17

Delaware Art Museum’s Collection Goes Digital

The Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington has launched a website that allows users to explore its vast collection from any location. The eMuseum features the institution’s best known works of art, many of which are not currently on view, and allows visitors to browse collections by object or artist. Users can view images of each work and create their own collections through the site.

To date, over 1,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures have been photographed, catalogued, and uploaded to the website. The museum’s entire 12,500-work collection will be available online by 2018. The first phase of the project was made possible thanks to a $13,000 Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and support from the Welfare Foundation. 

The Delaware Art Museum focuses on American art of the 19th through the 21st centuries and English Pre-Raphaelite art of the mid-19th century. To access the museum’s new database, click here.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has launched MetCollects, a new web series that grants visitors first glimpses of the Met’s recent acquisitions. MetCollects will highlight one work each month, selected from the hundreds of pieces that the museum acquires through gifts and purchases each year. Each MetCollects feature will include photography, curatorial commentary, and occasionally, informative videos.

Three MetCollects features are currently available on the museum’s website. The features explore the following recent acquisitions: a multimedia meditation on time and space by the modern artist William Kentridge, an early 19th century portrait by the French painter François Gérard, and the Mishneh Torah by the Master of the Barbo Missal. The Italian manuscript from around 1457 is jointly owned by the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Met.

Since 2000, the Met has launched a number of web-based initiatives including its Connections series, which offers personal perspectives on works of art in the museum’s collection by 100 members of the museum’s staff, and 82nd and Fifth, which features 100 curators from across the Met who talk about the one work of art from the collection that changed the way they see the world.

To view the MetCollects series click here.

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Back in December 2012, officials at the New York Public Library released a number of important details pertaining to their $300 million renovation. Part of the project involved clearing out the back portion of the library, which is housed in a landmark building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

The plan has 1.2 million volumes being relocated to a storage space under Bryant Park as well as another facility in Princeton, NJ. Most of the exiled books are now available digitally and library officials purposely chose rarely requested books to be relocated. With the newly freed up space, the architecture firm Foster & Partners, plan to create a four-level atrium with curving balconies filled with bookshelves and reading tables overlooking Bryant Park. It will be the first time since the library was built in 1911 that patrons will be able to see the park.

The library received a fair amount of criticism after announcing their plans to renovate and Advocates for Justice, a nonprofit organization, has just filed a lawsuit on behalf of five preservations and scholars. The plaintiffs are arguing that the library is violating its charter and the state’s constitution by removing the aforementioned books. The suit also claims that the library failed to conduct an environmental impact review for the renovation plans. While the library recently applied for building permits, officials claim that they are for “preliminary work” and that the designs have not been finalized.

The busiest public research library in the United States, the New York Public Library is expected to span 100,000 square feet after renovations are complete. Construction is slated to begin this summer and is expected to last until 2018.

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Tuesday, 05 March 2013 11:49

Google Launches Art Talks Series

Following the lead of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and PBS, Google will launch a series of monthly digital “Art Talks.” The project aims to bring gallery and museum collections to life through virtual hangouts with curators, museums directors, historians, and educators from the world’s most distinguished cultural institutions. The talks will explore various arts-related topics including the curating process, popular themes throughout art history, art education, and the significance of specific masterpieces and artists.

The first Art Talks hangout will take place at 8PM on March 6, 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Deborah Howes, the museum’s Director of Digital Learning, will join a panel of artists and students to discuss the process of teaching art online.

Upcoming Art Talks include Caroline Campbell and Arnika Schmidt from London’s National Gallery discussing depictions of the female nude throughout art history (March 20, 2013) and a panel discussion of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s (1525-1569) Tower of Babel featuring Peter Parshall, curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (April 2013). Additional talks are planned for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico.

The talks will be posted on the Google Art Project‘s YouTube channel after they air.

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