Saturday, June 27, 2009

National Gallery - new website and paintings for iphones

I'm not quite sure when they did it, but the National Gallery has definitely got a new design for its website.

It's got a much cleaner 'look' and is also much easier to navigate, although there's still a bit of scope for further improvement.
  • Down the the left hand side there are clear menu tabs for all current exhibitions events and recent news items.
  • all the important navigation and action words are in a nice large font - much easier to see. It also looks like they've also improved the accessibility of the site for those who have impaired vision or other disabilities.
  • The monthly focus painting gets much more screen space and has a much better impact than hitherto.
  • There's an opportunity to provide feedback at the bottom of the home page
  • It's a lot easier - and faster - when trying to access the different art in the collection.
  • Some of the parts of the site have pretty much the same structure as before - but a more attractive 'look' eg the Learning part of the site which focuses on different types of people who want to learn and different events.
  • However Learning in the top menu does not connection with Learn about art in the side menu (a sub domain of the collections part of the site) - which just seems very odd to me.
  • The new website also seems to be linked to some new events at the gallery eg Talk and Draw
National Gallery paintings on iPhones and iTouch devices

What's more this month The National Gallery announced that it has decided to become the very first make its paintings accessible through a downloadable iPhone application called Pentimento. It enables you to take a mini tour of the Gallery no matter where you live in the world.

This page explains what Pentimento is and provides answers to frequently asked questions. Basically it's a new art application for consumer mobile devices which combines software and digital media assets to create new and innovative ways to experience art. Art can be accessed through item lists such as artworks or artists, by theme such as period, emotion or movement or by gallery views.

I've not seen it, haven't got a clue how it works as yet, but this is how the National gallery application is described in the Press Release

This Pentimento application, called Love Art, features 250 paintings from the collection along with around 200 minutes of audio and video content, including interviews with National Gallery Director Dr Nicholas Penny, dramatist Robin Brooks, artist Maggie Hambling and Girl with a Pearl Earring author Tracy Chevalier.

Making use of special iPhone features such as its large touch-screen, zoom, Rolodex and scrollable menus, Love Art offers a playful exploration of the collection, together with informative commentaries.

The paintings are showcased to the best advantage using high-resolution images on the iPhone’s excellent-quality screen. Due to a tactile interface the experience gained through this application is not only highly enjoyable, but also lets you zoom in to see details that are often missed.

Do let me know if you download it and try it out!

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1 comment:

  1. I downloaded the iPhone app and it is a sort of multi-media magazine. For each artist there are one or more paintings, with short clips of people talking about the paintings, sometimes with little videos. It's interesting and educational.

    The downside:

    1. Once you've seen them all, the program is of little use since it doesn't update with new images and stories.

    2. It's HUGE, and takes up way too much space on my iPhone, slowing down the operation of other programs.

    I think there's about an hour total of content and I've seen about 1/3. As soon as I've seen it all I'm going to delete it so that everything goes back to working smoothly again.

    Thanks for the tip on this interesting program!


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