Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The amazing Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource

The Blind Girl by John Everett Millais
oil on canvas

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has an absolutely enormous collection of 2,300 PreRaphaelite paintings and drawings. Last year it launched a truly impressive Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource website which uses Microsoft Silverlight technology. This has a Deep Zoom function which allows the viewer to see the intense colours, brush strokes and pencil etchings in high quality detail.

Once you've clicked on one of the images - particulary if you own a 27" iMac with an HD screen as I do - your mouth drops open pretty fast! The level of detail is absolutely stunning. The level of documentation is also extremely thorough. It's a research resource which sets a standard that many will find hard to beat.

In my view, it's one of the most impressive art websites I've ever seen on the Internet in terms of the quality of the image which you can see. I'd venture to say it's even better than viewing in a gallery!

One drawback is that you do need to install Silverlight to see it - however you get the very reward when you see the quality of the pictures which result. The website provides you with a link to do this.

The website was launched in July 2009 and has been very well received. It was named best in the Arts and Culture class of the Interactive Media Awards in September 09 and has been shortlisted for two Drum Awards for the Digital Industries (DADI). In January this year the Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource won a BETT 2010 award in the category of Digital Collections and Resource Banks.
Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery received funding from JISC to digitise the Pre-Raphaelite collection and make it accessible online for the education community. The resulting Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource provides full record information and allows users to examine images in great detail. You can choose to browse the online collection, make simple searches or to interrogate the collection data using filtering tools. The ability to filter the collection in this way should be particularly useful for study and research. You can also interact with the online collection by creating your own personal collections of images and by discussing the works with the online community.
Preraphaelites - about this site
One of the major benefits of this project is that it is accessible to everybody in the Internet. Some of the other digitisation projects have spent a lot of money digitising material only to make it accessible via higher education institutions only - which I consider to be an extremely narrow and patronising perspective on how learning takes place in a web 2.0 world. In contrast this project makes the Pre-Raphaelites accessible to all.

– the Joint Information Systems Committee – is a joint committee of the UK further and higher education funding bodies and is responsible for supporting the innovative use of information and communication technology to support learning, teaching, and research.

You can find out more about JISC and its projects on the the JISC website

For more information or to browse the collection visit Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource website.

1 comment:

Robyn Sinclair said...

Katherine - What an amazing beautiful website. It took me a couple of frustrating hours to work out why Quicksilver wasn't working on my iMac. I didn't realise the plugin had to be enabled.

I've only now started to explore. Isn't Ruskin's early drawing of Trinity College Chapel enviable? Thank you, yet again!

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