The Metropolitan Museum of Art Tackles Image Search: A Missed Block Halts the Speeding Researcher

March 23, 2018

The Met Wins The War to Get Online

For a few decades, art and history museums have been struggling with their online presences. The experience of seeing a Jpeg of a painting or sculpture is not the same as seeing it in person. That’s true. But there is one area where museums are holding a lot of valuable data and just now it’s starting to be searchable. We discovered this recently when the Metropolitan Museum of Art ‘s database “MetPublications.”

According to the page:

“MetPublications includes a description and table of contents for most titles, as well as information about the authors, reviews, awards, and links to related Met titles by author and by theme. Current book titles that are in-print may be previewed and fully searched online, with a link to purchase the book. The full contents of almost all other book titles may be read online, searched, or downloaded as a PDF.”

This includes over five hundred books about various exhibits that have spanned the last five decades. These slim volumes, usually released in conjunction with various exhibits, is fully searchable and a huge score for art lovers and historians. Previously, it was seen as too daunting and, potentially impossible. As far back as 2002 Computer Weekly was bemoaning the fact that museums had missed the digital boat. Turns out museums like the Met didn’t miss the boat, it’s just that their ship sails a little more slowly than the white knuckle world of Silicon Valley.

Stepping back, Beyond Search has noted that image collections remain difficult to use. Browsing often works best. Searches can be frustrating. Results rendering sluggish. Interfaces confusing. Even commercial image search systems are challenging. For example, locate the Google “Life Magazine” collection. Now try to find the image from the 1950s showing a child jumping from a tank in the side yard of the Smithsonian Museum. Impossible, right? (I know. The kid was my much younger self, and my family kept the page from the magazine but it was misplaced. Before my father died, he wanted me to locate that image. Fail even with three of my researchers beavering away.)

Consequently useful reference resources fall short of the mark. That often makes a museum visit necessary. And getting access to certain content remains difficult.

Stephen E Arnold, March 23, 2018


One Response to “The Metropolitan Museum of Art Tackles Image Search: A Missed Block Halts the Speeding Researcher”

  1. roblox game on April 25th, 2018 3:37 am

    Your youngster will not see any messaging or in-game chat.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta