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Museum-Going: Getting Even More Virtual

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Last fall, I made a note to myself about an app made for the landmark exhibition at Houghton Hall in England, country home of Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745), which brought back about 60 paintings from the Hermitage and elsewhere -- they'd been sold, but were reunited for the first time in more than 200 years. The full story is here. The app is relevant again because soon the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will open a national tour here of  Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House -- it's not the same as the real thing, but this … [Read more...]

Art History For The 21st Century

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In fall 2012, James Cuno, president of the Getty Trust, chastised art historians in an op-ed on the web for being behind the times in their use of digital tools. I agreed, and wrote a post about it. So I've watched to see what the Getty was going to do about it -- and I outline some of those initiatives in today's Wall Street Journal. My Cultural Conversation with Cuno is headlined Modernizing Art History, and it details his thoughts, as well as a few from others who work at the Getty, on digital art history. Even though this is 2014, … [Read more...]

Way Beyond Museum Walls: A Driving Tour

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Many museums these days say they want to meet people where they are -- to go beyond their walls. And where are a lot of people but in their cars? That may or may not have been the motivation of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Ct., when it developed its newest initiative, but I thought would give a little visibility to it anyway: To accompany its exhibition Pasture to Pond: Connecticut Impressionism, which runs through June 22, the Bruce has developed a guided driving tour, complete with map,  of some of the scenes around the state that are … [Read more...]

New Web Resources Everywhere, It Seems

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Hard on the heels of the recent announcement by the Vatican, that its bounteous library had begun digitizing all 82,000 manuscripts in its 135 collections -- thanks to help from the Japanese Japanese technology group NTT Data -- the Tate has made available a rich artistic resource. It's called Audio Arts, and it consists of 245 hours of more than 1,640 interviews with artists, critics and other art world figures. This one is already available here. As the Tate's press release describes it: The list of interviewees ...includes some of the … [Read more...]

The Met Aces A New Online Feature

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I've always been a fan of galleries showcasing new acquisitions by art museums, so I suppose I was predisposed to like the web feature announced today by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.* It's called MetCollects, and there will be one episode a month, each going deep on a recent acquisition. The press release describes it as a "first look," but of the three episodes so far they are all already on view. No matter, really. Aside from the focus on new things to see, I like MetCollects because viewers of it will -- or can -- really look and … [Read more...]

“Morning Canvas” Debuts, But When?

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When do people want to "consume" the arts, for lack of a better word? Art museums, I've long said, are curbing their attendance, their much desired "accessibility," by continuing to offer 20th century hours -- mostly in the daytime, sometimes closing as early as 4 p.m. -- in a 21st century world, where most people are busy working during museums' opening hours. Now there's another example of a well-intended arts offering at a crazy, unrealistic hour. Recently, the Ovation TV channel launched an "arts programming" block, a two-hour show … [Read more...]

Don’t Regret Missing “Civilisation” — Not Anymore

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I never saw Civilisation. But I -- and you -- can easily access it now on a free website, along with 492 other documentaries about art, and hundreds more about science, history, war, Britain, America and so on. The site is called DocuWatch, and I have no idea how new or old it is. It was called to my attention today by a Facebook friend, and -- considering the snow that is paralyzing much of the Northeast corridor and some other parts of the country, it seemed like to perfect time to share it with RCA readers. Maybe you'll have Wednesday … [Read more...]

Smithsonian Launches A 3D “Exploration” Initiative

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Let's catch up on a little news from the Smithsonian, announced in mid-November, but which got very little attention. That's when it revealed the "Smithsonian X 3D Collection" and "state-of-the-art 3-D explorer."  Essentially, this device makes use of new 3D scanning and printing technology, with an eye toward making much more of its gigantic collection accessible to schools, researchers and the public at large. In the release, Günter Waibel, the director of the Institution’s Digitization Program Office [said], “The Smithsonian X 3D … [Read more...]

At The Met, Textiles And Technology = Bad Match

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Let me say from the outset that the Metropolitan Museum's* Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800 -- billed as "the first major exhibition to explore the international transmittal of design from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century through the medium of textiles" -- is a wonderful exhibition. The items -- costumes, bedcovers, hangings, vestments, fragments -- number 134 and, to me at least, they seem beautifully chosen. And the gallery design, with rich wall colors and varied displays, is suitably theatrical, roomy … [Read more...]

Choose Your Tools To Explore Gothic Ivories

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You never know what will catch fire. A couple of years ago, the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum had a little sensation on its hands when it displayed a set of the Lewis chessmen. Attendance soared. It was, probably, the little figures not the ivory they were made of that drew interest, but I thought of them when I learned recently about a project at the Courtauld Institute in London -- in a task begun in 2008, it's cataloging all known ivory sculptures made made in Western Europe ca. 1200-ca. 1530, as well as neo-Gothic pieces, and the … [Read more...]

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