Tyler Green on making collection catalogs accessible

Tyler Green, the author of the blog Modern Art Notes, posted an entry yesterday that reiterates one of the major themes from the 2.0 meeting. In the post, he laments that it is not possible for anyone to own all the collection catalogs of museums they might like to reference, as they take up a ton of space and some museum’s catalogs span multiple volumes. The whole post is good, but this line really stuck out:

“Because of cost and volume, collections and the scholarship done about them are primarily accessible to two groups of people: People who live in City X who can visit the extremely limited percentage of collection on view at City X Museum on a given day, and scholars who have access to libraries with excellent art-related books collections. If I feel like looking at the Nelson-Atkins’ Caravaggio — let alone learning more about it — the available images and information are limited”

He then mentions that the Getty is sponsoring a project to make museum’s collections more available in an on-line collection catalog format, and that SI’s Freer/Sackler is one of the pilot members. Do any Freer/Sackler folks have any more information on this?

The associated report “LA Art Online: Learning from the Getty’s Electronic Cataloging Initiative” details some of the challenges and rewards of “putting it all out there” and making collections accessible–It should be required reading for all of us SI 2.0 and other folks interested in learning how to be less stingy with their collections!! It only deals with digitizing collections (not blogs, etc.) but reinforces themes that came from the meeting and provides some framework for moving forward.

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