Museum Field Trip
Last night I had an amazing experience. I toured museums in multiple States and on two Continents. This also happened to be the least expensive cultural experience of my life since it was done from the privacy of my own home. “How is that possible?” you may ask. I toured each museum from my computer. Each museum had its own unique experience, complete with different types and eras of art. All of the art was beautiful in its own way. However, I’d like to inform and impress upon you not the art itself, but the manner in which the art was displayed. I’d like to tell you about the web sites. The art, you’ll have to see for yourselves.
The two museum sites I’d like to talk about are the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The National Gallery of Art. The Homepage of each site is user friendly, complete with pull-down menus that are decisive and easy to understand. There are also some commonalities as far as the names of the pull-downs are concerned. They both have an Exhibitions menu which has their current, upcoming and past exhibitions hyperlinks. Also they both have a Research menu whereas the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a much more thorough menu. They both have a Collections menu as well. It lists their highlighted works among other things and they are pretty similar to each other. And what would any museum be without Shops? Yes, both museums have a Shop menu on the Homepage. It’s like having a Souvenir Shop right next to the entrance of a museum. You don’t even have to tour the museum to purchase souvenirs. The Homepages also have their differences though. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a conventional web page with the pull-down menu spaced horizontally across the top of the page with some pictures you can click on and some other hypertext links arranged in a vertical fashion on the left side of the page. It also has the informative content arranged in the middle of the page. Whereas The National Gallery of Art shares the same Top-Horizontal pull-down menus, but has only a1 picture background with small pictures bar in the center that you can scroll through horizontally. The bar pictures descriptions mimic the pull-down menus.
What really gets to me with some pull down menus, is when I click on what is seemingly self-explanatory, i.e. “archive photos” and get links to other pages or “this page is no longer available”, or even better, “this page is currently under construction”. But, as I may have mentioned previously, the pull-downs on both sites were not only concise, but current as well. But yet again, the Metropolitan Museum of Art had more information and more links to choose from.
The real reason people go to museums and art galleries isn’t to talk about Homepages or pull-down menus, but to look at pictures and works of art. So let us discuss art. When you look at the Highlights hypertext on the Collections pull-down menu of both museums you’ll find their prized works of art. Each compendium of pictures is amazing and beautiful in its own way. Complete with a myriad of sculptures, artifacts, pictures, and paintings both museums offer a visual portal to culture and civilizations of the past and written descriptions insightful to life very different than that of the present. I would like to point out some distinct differences in the pictures from both sites. Not so much as the pictures themselves, as I stated they both had such beautiful pictures that I would be hard-pressed to make a distinction as to which ones I liked more and that is also not the intention of this writing, but the manner in which they are displayed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art had a much more fluid presentation of the pictures than the National Gallery of Art. When I clicked on the pictures in The National Gallery of Art the pictures were presented in a digital fashion. What I mean by that is that the picture would appear digital block by digital block. So, as you could imagine, when I zoomed in to take a closer look there was a definite, and sometimes substantial, delay in the appearance of the picture. There was also an annoying thumbnail that I couldn’t escape. Combined with a stuttering movement of the entire photo when I pointed from side to side and top to bottom, the picture viewing experience could have been better. However I was totally pleased in the presentation of the pictures from the Metropolitan Museum of art. The instant appearance and fluid zooming, in and out, made the viewing much more pleasurable. I would also like to add that there was no stuttering upon movement of the picture and no annoying thumbnail to try to ignore.
I did say in the introduction that I visited multiple museums in different states and on two different continents, however I am only comparing the two I would, after viewing the websites, like to attend in person. You can however, make that decision for yourself. The sites I visited are as follows: Frist Center for the Visual Arts: http://www.fristcenter.com, The Frick Collection: http://www.frick.org, The Smithsonian: http://www.si.edu/, American Museum of Natural History: http://www.amnh.org, Metropolitan Museum of Art: http://www.metmuseum.org/, The National Gallery of Art: http://www.nga.gov, and in Europe, The Tate Gallery: http://www.tate.org.uk/home/default.htm, and The Louvre: http://www.louvre.fr/louvrea.htm. I recommend taken a look at all of the museums I have listed to really experience a world of culture.
There are a lot of things I could have done with my time last night. I could have wasted my night watching television with my husband and daughter. Instead I went in my office and viewed a world of culture. I am thankful for this assignment. This was time well spent.