As reported in a recent post, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is now taking part in the Google Art project. Works from the AGO’s collection include Canadian greats such as Alexander Henderson, Emily Carr and Edward Burtynsky, as well as works from European painters such as Paul Gauguin, Frans Hals and James Tissot. Not surprisingly, the first Canadian institution in this international project has gained a lot of attention. The added media interest contributed to a 25% increase in visits to the AGO website the week of the launch.
Collaboration with Google
The project began in November 2011 when Google contacted the AGO and asked if they would like to participate in Phase 2 of their Art Project. Google provided specific timelines for deliverables, a project dashboard and a portal for uploading content. Choices about number of works and which works of art to include were left to the Gallery. The two stipulations were that the works needed to be copyright free and that images submitted met Google’s specific photographic standards. In the case of the AGO, this was one of the issues that helped the curatorial team whittle down their list of works from an initial 100 to the 58 works submitted.
Virginia Vuleta, Deputy Director, Information Technology & New Media Services at the AGO, would encourage other galleries to participate if they have the opportunity. She would also recommend that participating museums take advantage of the full range of online features available, including providing audiovisual materials to the premium YouTube channel.
Other digital happenings
The AGO is exploring other digital frontiers as well. They are converting an existing Iain Baxter book into an ebook for the iPad. Recognizing the need to rethink the format for this presentation, the ebook will include embedded videos that would not be possible in the traditional book format. They are also collaborating with the Vancouver Art Gallery to produce an iPad app featuring the works of Janet Cardiff and George Burres Miller.
Additionally, the AGO is taking advantage of free or open source technologies. From a list of 500 works considered for digital publication, the AGO found only 5 of the works had existing articles in Wikipedia. Recognizing the relevance of Wikipedia as a public resource, the AGO is undertaking to write Wikipedia articles on at least 100 of these works. Facebook is another avenue that the Gallery is using, where a new virtual album was created for Facebook, in conjunction with Canadian artist Max Dean.
Stay tuned to see what other digital projects the AGO is cooking up. And please let us know if you have any technology projects we can showcase and share with your museum colleagues.