The Indianapolis Museum of Art has started putting its artwork collection online. And if they were any more hip about it I’d be intimidated — you can browse their collection via a tag cloud and they actually have video clips on YouTube. But there’s some pretty important information missing…
We’ll start with the tag cloud. When you first go to http://www.ima-digital.org/steve/ , you’ll see a cloud of the most popular tags. (There is a login to add your own tags but that’s closed at the moment.) Top tags included Japanese, landscape, and painting, natch. You can also browse a enormous tag cloud if you don’t want to be restricted to a subset.
When you click a tag you’ll get a set of thumbnails — from one to over a dozen. Click on the thumbnail, and you’ll get a larger version of the picture and the words with which it’s tagged. However what you WON’T get is any information about the picture itself — who created it, when, and other information. Where’s that? I’m guessing/hoping that it’s because this collection is in its early stages. Perhaps we’ll see more information later.
The other thing I missed looking at the pictures is how users can distribute them. I mean, if I can browse via a tag cloud why can’t I automatically tag interesting pictures in Del.icio.us? Why can’t I send a picture as an e-card? Again I’m guessing it’s because it’s early for this collection.
If you’re too old-school to browse with tags, you can also browse by set via http://www.ima-digital.org/steve/sets/ . Hint: Click on the name of the set, not on pictures within the set, and you’ll get more results at a time. Also once you’ve finished browsing through the set, refresh the page and you’ll see a different set of pictures. Actually after I was exploring this way I decided I wanted to try just randomly browsing. So I took the URL http://www.ima-digital.org/steve/images/800/ and changed the number at the end. (800 worked but 900 didn’t, so you’ll have to do some experimenting.) Change the number and you’ll get an image page with tags. If the number doesn’t exist you’ll get an empty template page.
Did I mention YouTube? The IMA has a YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/itsmyart . Currently it has a dozen videos ranging from employee profiles to exhibition previews.
You can see an overview of the IMA’s plans in this article at the Indianapolis Star . I liked looking at the pictures and the ability the explore tag clouds was useful (I never know what keywords to use when searching museums.) I can’t wait until picture details are added — I feel like I’m missing a whole dimension of information.