Have you ever been to a museum and managed to get tons of pictures of great looking art but you managed to miss what the art was, or you failed Art History and the painting just looked pretty? I’ve been there, often and recently. Luckily for me the Philadelphia Museum of Art has a decent amount of their collection online and tagged in a great gallery feature.
On a recent weekend our family went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art with some friends. Aside from terrorizing the entire quiet museum with my two year old wall of sound, which is a story for another blog. I was ecstatic to try the new camera out in real field conditions. The camera is a Canon PowerShot SD790IS.* I love to take pictures of everything, but I also annoy others by taking too long doing so.
So I didn’t have time to check the labels for the things i was taking pictures of. Usually I’ll take a quick photo of the label right after the item so i know what I’m looking at, it just didn’t happen, I again reference you to the two year old whirling dervish. By the by that’s an actual photo, its not blurred that’s how he appeared all day.
I did manage to get some really nice pictures overall. The inability to turn off the flash without having it flip right back on was a bit of a pain and I did get yelled at a bunch of times byt the security, something about damaging the art.
When I got home I visited the Museum’s website and much to my surprise they have pretty much 90% of the current collection online in a great format. I was trying to find the correct spelling of the Hindu God in this picture, Ganesha By the by. Heading to Their website, which is chock full of podcasts and information, I clicked on the collections button and found Search the collections. Search for Elephant, and that brings you the three pieces in the Museum which have been tagged with that. A Quick click on the one that resenmbled my hastily snapped picture reveals more information that i could have ever hoped to have gotten looking at the piece.
Not only does that page give you information about the piece but it also has a link to an interactive map that lets you view other items in the same room! I am a sponge for information, especially stuff involving history so this is beyond cool to me. Overall this is a great User experience, i only wish they pushed the web aspect a little more while you were there. Nothing could ever replaces the feeling of standing three inches away from a thousand year old sculpture, no picture could ever replace the nuances that your eyes pick up. But having the added meta data to your experiences and you really come away knowing so much more. They also allow you to add your own tags in.
So now I have spent the better part of a couple of nights over the past week going through my pictures and placing tags on my pictures. I hope you get a chance to visit the Museum if you ever come to Philadelphia, or if you have been, check out their site to relive the experience.
Its really great to see a venerable institution such as the Art Museum embrace the good side of social media, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.