March 4, 2021

Coming in April: National Gallery of Art Launching NGA Online Editions, an Interactive Way to Explore Its Collection

From the National Gallery in Washington, DC:

On April 24th, the National Gallery of Art will debut an innovative digital initiative with the launch of Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.’s Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century.

This first release in NGA Online Editions is part of an ongoing effort to digitize and provide open access to the Gallery’s permanent collection catalogs and will eventually document more than 5,000 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.

“We set out on this initiative knowing that there is no one way of presenting scholarly content online,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “As a public institution, our response was to create an online environment that is fully integrated with our website and will allow specialists and art lovers from all over the world to skim, swim, or dive into rich areas of our permanent collection. This first release welcomes a world of scholars, students, and those serious about art to study and enjoy the nation’s Dutch painting collection.”

Additional releases on other areas of the Gallery’s collection are in process, among them Italian Paintings of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, American Modernism, Italian Paintings of the Sixteenth Century, Renaissance Plaquettes, and French Paintings of the Nineteenth Century.

All NGA Online Editions will provide free and open access to featured collections and include an introductions by curators, illustrated scholarly entries (each preceded by a short overview), biographies of the artists, technical summaries, a complement of related essays, and rich media—in this case a series of video tours of the Dutch paintings galleries led by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.

Other important features of the site include:

  • A customized reading environment: An adjustable split-screen “reader mode” allows users to view scholarly text alongside images, notes, and comparative figures or to view them in line with the text.
  • Compare and explore images: An image-comparison tool enables users to view primary and comparative images side by side or to explore technical images via overlay and cross-fading techniques.
  • Ease of research: The NGA Online Editions toolbar provides pre-formatted citations for an object or biography, easy export, and quick access to archived pages.
  • Archived versions and permanent URLs: Immediate access to PDFs of earlier versions and the assurance of permanent web addresses are a convenience to students and scholars alike.
  • Enhanced search capabilities: An interactive search index is driven by an evolving list of terms particular to each area of the collection.

NGA Online Editions presents the same authoritative, peer-reviewed scholarship found within the Gallery’s bound volumes but enriched with customized tools for a more dynamic research experience.

The creation of NGA Online Editions was made possible by a generous grant from the Getty Foundation. As part of the Getty’s Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI), the Gallery and eight other museums were tasked with finding new ways to provide authoritative information in fully accessible, user-friendly online settings.

Direct to NGA Online Editions (Page Live on 4/24)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

Share