Chinese Art Online

September 13, 2018

With a little digging, anyone can find great stuff for free on the Internet.  This stuff includes: games, books, audiobooks, language lessons, software tutorials, coding expertise, and more.  The problem, however, is if you do not know where to look this information is near impossible to find.  Open Culture is one of the Internet’s bastions for great free stuff and they announced a new Asian acquisition: “Free: Download 70,000+ High-Resolution Images Of Chinese Art From Taipei’s National Palace Museum.”

While China is now open to the West, many of its cultural aspects remain a mystery and unavailable to curious and interested people.  Two of the greatest dynasties in China’s history are the Ming and Qing dynasties, ranging from 1386 to 1912.  As one can imagined, Chinese artists created amazing pieces, but they have not been available to the public until now.  The Taipei National Palace Museum has scanned over 70,000 items in high resolution photos for fee browsing and download.  Not only was this a big expense and huge amount of work, it also brings new cultural history and content to the Internet.

There is currently an English version of the image archive, but the Chinese version, of course, has the richer and easier to navigate content (if you speak Chinese).

“Still, the National Palace Museum has been improving its English portal, which allows searches not just by category of object but by dynasty, a list that now reaches far beyond the Ming and Qing, all the way back to the Shang Dynasty of 1600 BC to 1046 BC. But even as the English version catches up to the Chinese one — as of this writing, it contains more than 4700 items — it will surely take some time before National Palace Museum Open Data catches up with the complete holdings of the National Palace Museum, with its permanent collection of about 700,000 Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks spanning eight millennia. As with Chinese history itself, a formidable subject of study if ever there was one, it has to be taken one piece at a time.”

This is an amazing contribution to humanity’s rich cultural history, but the biggest downside is that unless you visit the museum’s web site no one else is going to know about this online museum.  One of the biggest problems with online databases and archives, such as those curated by museums and historical societies, is that their information is not connected to search engines like Google and DuckDuckGo.

Whitney Grace, September 13, 2018


2 Responses to “Chinese Art Online”

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