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:
- American Memory Project (U.S. Library of Congress)
- The Bowes Museum: Ceramics
- The Gilbert Collection (silver and enamel art)
- The British Postal Museum
- Teyler Museum’s Circusmuseum.nl
- The Gardiner Museum (ceramics)
- Harvard University Collections
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- The London Transport Museum (posters)
- The Wisconsin Historical Society
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
- The U.K.’s National Maritime Museum
- The U.S. National Postal Museum
- The New York Public Library
- University of Texas Map Collection
- The Worcester Porcelain Museum
- Michigan State University Museum and Library
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!