Museum sites offer all the art with none of the tourists
July 8, 1996
Web posted at: 9:00 a.m. EDT
From CNN Interactive Writer Liza Kaufman Hogan
(CNN) -- Want to know what "Venus de Milo" looks like but
can't make it to Paris? Want to catch the Cezanne exhibit in
Philadelphia but can't get a ticket? Most major art museums
and many that you've probably never heard of are on the Web
for your viewing pleasure.
Museum sites on the Internet generally come in two varieties:
those that are extensions of off-line museums and those that
exist only in cyberspace. The former offer a whirlwind tour
of famous collections via your computer screen; the latter
challenge you to consider what is art.
For a sampling of fine arts offerings on the Web, check out
The National Museum of American Art:
Among the most engaging museum sites on the Web, this is one
of several institutions in the Smithsonian with a
presence on the Internet. The NMAA site is filled with Web-
specific content including special on-line exhibitions, slide
shows, audio files and photos in multiple sizes for detailed
viewing. In addition there are photos of more than 1,000
works from the museum's 37,000-plus collection of American
arts and crafts.
Highlights include an "in virtu" tour of the White House
Collection of American Crafts, no longer on display on
Pennsylvania Avenue but preserved for posterity on the Web.
The site's mission statement says it is committed to sharing
the collection with people who may never set foot through the
doors of its museum in Washington. It delivers.
Musee du Louvre:
So it only has only 20 or so of the famous Paris museum's
more than 300,000-plus works on-line. It's the Louvre.
Here, on this unofficial site, you'll find digital versions of Leonardo da Vinci's
"Mona Lisa," Eugène Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People"
as well as "Venus de Milo." While it's hardly the same as
seeing these masterpieces in person, it beats waiting in line
and saves you 40 francs.
The Louvre site also includes a brief history of the grand
museum, an overview of its extensive collection, tourist
information and photos of the facade. It's a good place to go
if you're planning a visit to Paris or simply want to relive
As long as you're in the city of lights, check out WebMuseum,
Paris, an on-line gallery of famous works by famous artists.
Compiled by Web consultant Nicolas Pioch, WebMuseum is Art
History 101 for net travelers. The Famous Paintings
exhibition is an exhaustive survey of paintings from the
Gothic period to Pop Art, including thorough essays on major
artists and movements. Most of the images are borrowed from
Mark Harden's Fine Art Site at Texas and can also be viewed
in Texas. Yee-Ha.
Apart from the paintings, WebMuseum's graphics leave much to
be desired, but as a bonus the site includes snapshots of
Paris compiled for a virtual walking tour -- should you
choose to venture beyond the austere museums -- and an
auditorium with classical sound files to put you in the mood
for highbrow art.
If it's lowbrow art you're after, point to the Museum of Bad
Art, a Web site that truly
lives up to its name.
Other museum sites :
See previous site seer reviews.
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