Surely you remember that Art & Seek feature story from last fall, the one about how museums are exploring different ways online to present themselves, their public image and their individual holdings?
Well, it was a tough story to report, he barked, slamming down his cup of java. He ticked the items off on his trembling, tobacco-stained fingers:
A) The museums are scrambling in several different directions at once: blogs, behind-the-scenes images, online photo contests, etc.
B) Some of the things they’re doing and why they’re doing them are insider-baseball-ish (for instance, the debate over what kind of info should go online and whether it will affect public attendance).
And C) the single most ambitious and most remarkable effort, the DMA’s Arts Network, is very difficult to explain in a sentence or two. Perhaps that’s why it’s gotten, like, zero public attention. It’s not just that the DMA will be wireless (it already is) and visitors will be able to access tons of data about individual artworks they couldn’t before. It’s how all that will work organizationally and presentationally, as it were: how all that info will be gathered (from the different departments — documents, video clips, donor data) and presented (to all the different visitors: scholars, students researching a paper, ordinary art lovers, etc.).
That may not sound sexy, but it involves almost the entire museum and it involves all those parts trying to open up to the public online in some coordinated, accessible, useful fashion.
See? he said and slumped in his seat. That didn’t really help, did it?
OK. So just look at the DMA’s smart Flash video that explains the basic aspects of the Arts Network, what a visitor might want to know. Art & Seek hopes to post the thing ourselves soon.