Great Art Museums Online
The Metropolitan is the Queen of North American art museums. With over 20 permanent departments beginning with Ancient Egypt through all stages of European art to the present, as well as covering Islam, Asia, and the Americas, the Met is much more than a collection of European paintings. In fact, the Met is one of the shining examples of an institution based on principles of high multiculturalism.
The permanent departments are represented by 3,500 reproductions of works of art. And The Met calls this is the first installment of what is expected to be a comprehensive visual catalog.
There is a director's tour of 25 objects representing highlights from the key departments. Or you can begin with any of the 21 collections choosing up to 50 items to view per collection. European painting, all 2,000 pieces, is completely accessible.
The images appear as thumbnails which can be enlarged, and the fine details studied with zoom capacity for most pieces. The image quality is good (though not up to the high definition standards of IBM's work for Hermitage or National Gallery in Washington). The notes accompanying the work are said to be newly written for the site. Through one of its special features the Met provides storage space for saving images you like.
Educational materials are extensive and located in four separate departments and libraries. Explore and Learn is the place to begin for online adult and family educational needs as it tends to be drawn from current or past exhibits.
There is a site wide search function but it isn't the easiest one I've seen. You may find it easier to use Artcyclopedia to search for paintings. (Note that there are quite a few black and white photos of the earlier paintings and Artcyclopedia does not index these.) Surprisingly for an institution that prides itself on its great traditions, there is no history of the museum to be found online. All in all a splendid example of the seriousness and vitality of the history of art on the net.
If, as Thomas Hoving says, the best way to see the Met is to nibble on it for twenty minutes a day every day of the year taking in two or three sublime objects, then this web site seems designed for just such a regimen.
For those who love the Spanish masters Goya and Velázquez, or the Flemish giants Bosch, Bruegel and Rubens, or the great Italians like Titian, the Prado is the museum. Yet it is at the same time one of the greatest art museums (containing over 20,000 works of sculpture, painting and drawing) and one of the least satisfactory (only 1,200 paintings are on view in the real site). This website is a potential solution but has a long way to go getting these objects online.
Nevertheless, what is online is first rate. Two features worth exploring: Looking at Art is a monthly discussion of one painting from the collection, with an analytical diagram and short commentary. Visits includes another group of 35 masterpieces (there is a good deal of overlapping here). No zoom function. Detailed Search engine available for paintings only. Good history of the museum. A few free virtual postcards are now available including some favorites.
4. National Gallery of Art in London
This extraordinary collection which represents the whole history of European painting is now virtually completely online. But there are a number of bugs which they need to fix. Don't be discouraged by results of simple searches that seem twisted.
There are a number of tricks which will assist you searching this site. One is to use some broad search themes like altarpieces, landscape, still life, religious paintings, angels, etc. These will work and will produce the results you are looking for.
Also hidden from view are the equivalent of three CD's produced in previous years by the Gallery of three of their greatest treasures: Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait, Renoir's The Umbrellas and Botticelli's Mystical Nativity. To access these exhibits, go to the Exploring Paintings section.
There is also a Eurosearch function which allows you to search the Louvre, Hermitage, Van Gogh Museum, Mauritshuis and a few other web sites.
And you can download the whole catalog of their latest exhibit, Encounters: New Art from Old, which presents us with the reflections of contemporary masters such as Balthus, Bill Viola, Francesco Clemente, Lucian Freud, David Hockney among others as in the process of creating works inspired by paintings in the permanent collection. Truly an event in the world of art.
Be patient with this site it will eventually be a wonderful source of pleasure and enlightenment.
5. The Tate Galleries
North Americans used to be the masters of the blockbuster: now watch the British beat us at our own game. The Tate Britain is the greatest collection of British art in the world and the Tate Modern is England's greatest collection of modern art. The online images have reached a fantastic 8,000 with 500 being added each week out of a total of 25,000.
This means all of Turner's work will be online by next year including the rarely exhibited drawings and watercolors. There is more art here than on any of the other sites -- much more than you would ever see if you went in person to the Tate for a year.
This article is copyright 2000 by Joseph Phelan. Please do not republish any portion of this article without written permission.
Joseph Phelan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article: Venetian Painting and the Rise of Landscape
||Mythology in Art|
Article: Forbidden Visions: Mythology in Art
||Art and Religion|
Article: Themes in Art: The Passion of Christ
Exhibit: Christus Rex
||Inuit Art/The National Gallery of Art in Washington|
Museum: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Exhibit: Inuit Art: The World Around Me
||Poll: Who is Producing the Most Interesting Art Today? (Results)|
||Poll: Who is Producing the Most Interesting Art Today? (Part II)|
||Poll: Who is Producing the Most Interesting Art Today? (Part I)|
||The Louvre Museum
Artist: Albrecht Dürer
Museum: The Louvre
Book: Paintings in the Louvre
Print: Study of a Horse's Head, by Pisanello
Artist: Claude Monet
Museum: North Carolina Museum of Art
Exhibit: Monet: O Mestre do Impressionismo
Book: Impressionists in Winter: Effets de Neige
Print: Nympheas avec Effets de Nuage, by Claude Monet
Artist: M.C. Escher
Museum: The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
Exhibit: Trompe l'oeil: The Art of Deception
Book: M.C. Escher: His Life and Complete Graphic Work
Print: Movement In Squares, by Bridget Riley
||Animals in Art
Artist: Antoine-Louis Barye
Museum: National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Exhibit: PBS: American Visions
Book: Natural Worlds, by Robert Bateman
Print: A la Bodiniere, by Théophile Steinlen
Artist: Odd Nerdrum
Museum: Museum of Modern Art, New York
Exhibit: Virtuo Official Magritte Site
Book: Mystery of Magritte CD-ROM
Print: Santiago El Grande, by Salvador Dalí
Artist: Audrey Flack
Museum: Carol Gerten's Fine Art
Exhibit: Michael Lucero: Sculpture 1976-1995
Book: Anish Kapoor
Print: Cupid And Psyche, by Antonio Canova
||Women in the Arts
Artist: Georgia O'Keeffe
Museum: National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.
Exhibit: Jenny Holzer: Please Change Beliefs
Book: Cindy Sherman: Retrospective
Print: Self-Portrait with Monkeys, by Frida Kahlo
||The Golden Age of Illustration
Artist: Maxfield Parrish
Museum: Fine Arts Museums Of San Francisco
Exhibit: Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe online
Books: Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe
Print: Cinderella (Enchantment), by Maxfield Parrish
||Vincent van Gogh
Artist: Vincent van Gogh
Museum: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Exhibit: The Vincent van Gogh Information Gallery
Book: Van Gogh's Van Goghs
Print: Terrasse de Cafe
Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
Museum: The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
Exhibit: John Singleton Copley: Watson and the Shark
Book: The Sistine Chapel: A Glorious Restoration
Print: L'Astronomia, by Raphael
* National Gallery of Canada material may be used for personal, non-commercial purposes only. Any other use, including publication, copying, redistribution, or retransmission of this material in any manner is prohibited without prior written permission from the National Gallery of Canada.