Monday, May 08, 2006
Museum visits without leaving home #1
There is a wealth of museum sites on line, and all of them offer a wide variety of experiences. You can look at works in the permanent collection, read scholarly treatises about different periods in art history, or participate in a blog where you can post comments and talk to art specialists.
One example is the Tate group of museums in Britain. Their large website offers access to the collections at all four of their locations. Among the special features are iMap, a site for visually impaired visitors, and a link for sending free e-cards.
So, sit back and let your fingers do the walking through the Tate’s many galleries. More on-line museums will be discussed in future entries here.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Actors lend their voices to podcasts on art
In recent years, many museum visitors have discovered the joys of using audio guides to enhance their visits to special exhibitions as well as to permanent collections. Standing quietly in front of a painting, letting my eyes take it in while through earphones a mellifluous voice explains the background and history of the work, and what to look for—this seems to me to be the ideal museum experience.
Now, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has taken audio accompaniment to a new level, by producing podcasts. The first one, in October 2005, featured the actor Kevin Bacon reading from van Gogh’s letters. It was heard by about 16,000 people on iTunes and the Met’s web site, and even made the list of the 100 most-listened-to podcasts on iTunes.
That first production was experimental, and its success has led to other podcasts; for example, Sam Waterston can be heard telling the life story of Queen Hatshepsut (for “Hatshepsut, From Queen to Pharoah”), and punk rocker Johnny Rotten talks about the rise of punk style in England in the 1970s (for the exhibition “AngloMania”).
The commentaries can be found at the Met’s website, www.metmuseum.org, on the pages devoted to current exhibitions, where they can be downloaded, subscribed to, or listened to on streaming audio. What a great way to add a new dimension to the appreciation of art.
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