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E- Museums: The Museum of Modern Art Puts 65,000 Works of Modern Art Online. So, How is this Different?

March 23, 2016. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday, by Jack Dziamba

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 6.44.45 PM

Upload/Download

It seems that one can hardly turnaround before another museum or institution has posted a huge number of art works online. For example, Download 35,000 Works of Art from the National Gallery, Including Masterpieces by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Rembrandt & More, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Puts 400,000 High-Res Images Online & Makes Them Free to Use,  and Download 100,000 Free Art Images in High-Resolution from The Getty.

Also, the Google Art Project has works  online from some 151 institutions from 40 countries, in gigapixels, searchable, the works can be enlarged and viewed, up close, for as long as the viewer wants, and in much more detail than one would be allowed to  in a brick & mortar institution.  Many institutions in the Google Art Project have interior “street views” where one can roam the institution’s halls and exhibition rooms.

So What?

And now, this month,  The Museum of Modern Has Put 65,000 Works of Modern Art Online. So, what makes the MoMA upload different?

Take a look at this screenshot:

MoMA screenshot

And this one:

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An Extraordinary View of Art

In the realm of the blockbuster museum exhibition, only one artist is shown, Picasso, Rembrandt, Duchamp, for example.  Indeed one feels somehow shortchanged, or insulted even if one other artist is shown. This unconscious attitude can be depicted as, “I didn’t come to the Picasso exhibition to see other stuff by other artists.”

This Is How The MoMA Upload Is Different

One couldn’t say it better, I think, than expressed by Josh Jones  in Open Culture,

“When you spend a great deal more time with modern art—looking over artists’ entire body of work and seeing how various schools and individuals developed together—it becomes apparent that all art, even the most radical or strange, evolves in dialogue with art, and that no artist works fully in isolation.”

Now, look at the two screenshots again. You will see some startling similarities in the artists’ works, so much so that one may expect the work to have been done by one artist, Picasso, Duchamp, Gris, or Exter, only to find that it was done by another, Exter, Gris, Duchamp, or Picasso. This feature allows one  to see the works in context, and see how the artists, the styles, and the movements are are very much interrelated.

This ease of comparison may seem like not an important use of New Media tools by MoMA, but the brilliance of the groupings allow one to see the art and the artists as perhaps one has never seen before. This not only leaves a dramatic and lasting impression, but opens up a whole new way of looking at art, which is not possible  to realize in the typical  blockbuster exhibition.

This allows the viewer online to see and appreciate an important concept in art. As expressed again by Josh Jones,

“Early 20th century modernism often seems to come out of nowhere, especially when our exposure to it comes in the form of a survey of singular great works. Each sculpture, film, or painting can seem sui generis, as though left by an alien civilization for us to find and admire.”

Fine Art in the New Media

The MoMA online exhibition of Modern Art is an excellent example of the use of the New Media tools to fulfill the mission to make art accessible to everyone, everywhere, with a user  interface which is seamless, elegant, and non-obtrusive.

One comment on “E- Museums: The Museum of Modern Art Puts 65,000 Works of Modern Art Online. So, How is this Different?

  1. One of your best posts! Of course I’m prejudiced towards it. By the way, I can’t afford any of the paintings but want one or three… Am furiously buying lottery tickets…

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