Museum Collections Online - Wow!

February 11th, 2008

In reviewing thousands of sites for our Hall of Fame, one thing we’ve realized is that big museums and libraries have fantastic collections, and are working hard to get them online.

We’ve seen several approaches taken, each with its own merits. One is the microsite, where a museum like the Victoria and Albert in London will create several mini-sites focused on specific antiques and collecting topics, such as their ceramics, art deco, and 1960s fashion efforts.

Another is the database approach, where for example Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts will simply digitize their immense collection and provide access to it through a search box. A very well-done example of this is the Speed Art Museum’s Kentucky Online Arts Reseource, a rich trove of beautiful photos and reference information on pre-1950s Kentucky furniture, decorative arts, ceramics, glass, silver, textiles, and other antiques and crafts.

And finally, some museums are getting really creative, like the effort by Australia’s Powerhouse Museum to let web visitors ‘tag’ each item with keywords so other visitors can navigate the collection using intuitive terminology.

There’s lots to like about what museums are doing online, and also lots of opportunity for improvement. Here are some other worthy museum and library efforts to check out if you’re interested:

Know of a museum or library site with great online exhibits or collections? Let us know, (use ‘add a comment’ below), we’d love to take a look!

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