American Representational Art: Recent Online Developments
The amount of American representational art knowledge available online without charge increased notably in 2010. Non-profit sources continue to add content in new media as well as in text and static images. Commercial sources are offering more comprehensive information on historic artists. The largest search provider has recently made it easier to find higher quality content.
Increasingly in-depth articles, plus many essays, were added to Resource Library during the year. The titles may be located in various ways including the chronological index.
Other non-profit organizations
Museums increasingly are posting to their websites content in several forms of media. This is a departure from an emphasis in past years of posting exhibition information via text and some images of related artwork, and in some cases, placing online images of objects in their collections. A trend is developing among numerous institutions to post online video, audio and, in some cases, contents of entire catalogues and brochures. Another promising trend is for museums to archive on their websites extensive information about past exhibitions instead of removing it once exhibitions have closed.
In aggregate, less in-depth American representational art exhibition information than in prior years was available to Resource Library from museum, gallery and art center sources during 2010. A primary reason is that many museums' human resources diminished due to funding reductions. Staff reductions at museums are causing less time to be available to compile materials for online publication. Also related to downsized funding: the quantity of major exhibitions was reduced from prior years. Many museums have mounted smaller exhibitions requiring less expense. For instance, a greater percentage of less-expensive photography exhibits occurred in 2010 for many museums.
Reflective of more museums' interest in interaction with the public, names, phone numbers and email addresses of staff members are increasingly prevalent in "about us" sections of museum websites. This trend has allowed quicker access to museum staff members by members of the media and the public.
Museums, historical societies, and other sources are rapidly increasing the quantity of online artist biographies. As an example, Wikipedia is rapidly accumulating biographies of American artists. As Wikipedia matures, the "notes," "references" and "external links" following Wikipedia biographies provide increasingly valuable references for further study. Links to Wikipedia's biographical content are being added as TFAO cycles through the update schedule of America's Distinguished Artists.
Commercial and private sources
During the past year commercial dealers and galleries accelerated postings of more expansive biographies of artists. Increasingly they are creating whole pages and minisites devoted to a single artist. Many of these pages evidence extensive research and excellent presentation. Some galleries are providing videos of both gallery tours and lectures.
Over the past year TFAO noted an acceleration in a recent trend of descendants of artists creating sites devoted to the artist. Many of these sites are quite rich in content.
Improvement in locating relevant information
Google changed its search algorithms in February to favor sites with in-depth content and research relating to subjects over sites with scant content, high amounts of advertising and gimmicks to redirect viewers to sales sites. This has helped sources focusing on content. As Google's algorithms are fine-tuned, its policy change should be of benefit to sites that offer knowledge and understanding of subjects as their primary goal, such as TFAO's online digital library.
The above article was first published March 4, 2011 and revised August 7, 2011.
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