Reimagining the Museum Tour

An article in today’s New York Times looks at how companies like Museum Hack are presenting the museum experience in new (and sometimes irreverent) ways.  Lead by informed and lively guides (many are performers), Museum Hack offers tours in New York, LA, Chicago, and a growing number of other major US cities.  Offerings such as the “Un-Highlights Tour” or the “Badass Bitches Tour” give visitors a new slant on the museum experience.  Guides use pop culture references, storytelling with a twist, or physical recreation as an analytical tool.

As the founder of Museum Hack says, “We think that audiences have to be entertained before they can be educated.”  Discuss.

Making LOC Public Domain and Rights-Clear Content Easier to Find

Libary of Congress Free to Use and Reuse sectionWhen the Library of Congress redesigned the Library’s home page in late 2016 they began featuring free-to-use sets at the bottom of the page. Each set displayed on the home page is now available from the Free to Use and Reuse page.

The Library believes that this content is either in the public domain, a U.S. government work, has no known copyright or has been cleared by the copyright owner for public use. (Please remember that rights assessment is your responsibility). The content featured here will change regularly and they will continue to add to this archive.

This featured content is just a small sample of the Library’s digital collections that are freely available for use. Whenever possible, each collection item has its own rights statement, which should be consulted for guidance. See more information about copyright and the Library’s collections.

Who owns 3D scans of archaeological sites?

There was an interesting piece on NPR this week about high-resolution images, panoramas and 3D scans of archaeological sites. This type of capture is very useful for all sites, but has been particularly invaluable for sites which have been destroyed in recent years.  In addition to viewing a structure that may no longer exist,  they enable us to look at it from physically possible angles.  Many of these 3D recreations have been made by non-profits, such as CyArk or the British Museum, that need assistance with storage and access.  They have partnered with Google Arts & Culture, which has provided a platform for both, as well as a single portal for like projects.

While assembling all these resources in one place is convenient and valuable for students and educators, there has been criticism on the ethics of these collaborations.  The fact that the images are controlled by an entity other than the country where the structure resides has been called out, and was called “digital colonialism” by one critic in the NPR story.

Have a look through Google Arts & Culture, read the story, and let us know your thoughts on this by commenting here.


One-minute art history

A beautiful feat of animation by artist and educator Cao Shu, One-minute art history incorporates an astonishing range of styles in this short narrative.

One minute art history video

Expansion of Artstor’s collections and services

You may have seen some changes to the look and functionality of Artstor in recent months.  They have moved to a more robust platform and unveiled a new interface. Among the many improvements is the access to information for any image or media file – no more pop-ups!

You can also easily access Commons  (open to the world) content through their separate Commons site or through the Public Collections feature.  And the collection is ever-expanding – it now has nearly 2.5 million images and other media!

Thank you for everything, Linda Nochlin

Feminist art historian Linda Nochlin died on the weekend.  There’s a lengthy obituary in Art News.  And you may want to read this illustrated guide to her 1971 essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”  Or view this video of her 2009 lecture at the Smithsonian, “Consider the Difference: American Women Artists.”

Artstor announces three major releases in material culture and Anthropology

Feather cape – made of peacock feathers, etc. (pelerine). South African? 1820-1830. Image and original data provided by Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. © President and Fellows of Harvard College (courtesy Artstor, harvard_peabody_awss35953_35953_387510640Artstor has just released more than 170,000 new images in Anthropology from three major institutions:

  1. Réunion des Musées Nationaux and Art Resource are contributing nearly 1,400 images of works from the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac.
  2. The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia has released approximately 75,000 images of art and cultural objects from the museum’s permanent collection.
  3. The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University is contributing more than 95,000 additional images of objects from their permanent collection, bringing their total in Artstor to approximately 143,000.

These releases span global cultures past and present – including African, Native North American, Pre-Columbian, European, Oceanic, Aboriginal Australian, and Asian cultures – and includes rare and valuable material including sacred objects and architecture, as well as clothing, jewelry, and tools.

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