Transparent Walls: The Technology of Dissemination in Art Museum Collections

Title

Transparent Walls: The Technology of Dissemination in Art Museum Collections

Creator

Gretchen Kodanaz

Description

The still image has been paramount to human documentation since our earliest history. We have always relied on captures of the present to preserve it for posterity, and never more so than in the arena of art museums. Whether a physical painting hanging in a gallery or an extremely high definition image of Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Cypresses available online, still images allow for reflection, comparison, and dissemination. While these three concepts are vital to the mission of museums, it has only been through embracing new technologies that museums have been able to truly adhere to their goals of global access to collections.
Still imagery has allowed museums around the world to slowly eliminate the barriers between their galleries and a global audience. From simple reproductions in the 19th and 20th centuries to virtual gallery tours in the 21st century, museums are now able to share information about the physical collection and scholastic content of their institutions to an ever-growing audience. Through still imagery, the art historical discipline even gained a legitimate foundation on which to ground continued scholarship and general education. The key stages of both specialist and leisurely consumption of art-related still imagery involves projection, print, color, and digitization—all of which have helped museums disseminate their collections farther, cheaper, and faster with a quality respectable to the fine art being shared.

Subject

Still Image

Technologies and Events in This Collection

Magic Lantern
When thinking of magic lanterns, fine art education isn’t what necessarily comes to mind, however this technology served as a precursor to more modern day technologies, such as slide projectors and PowerPoint, and helped promote the use of…

First Magic Lantern show in Philadelphia
In 1849, Frederick and William Langenheim, German-born brothers who became prominent commercial photographers in Philadelphia, gave their first public magic lantern show using photographic slides known as hyalotypes. This event was a culmination of…

Halftone Printing
When Daguerre first wrote on his discoveries of photography, he imagined several possible uses including valuable application to science, art, and even the leisure class. Much of those early ideas have since come to be, however one of the earliest…

First Newspaper Image Using Halftone Printing
In the late 1870s, the halftone process first took hold as an effective method for cheaply and sufficiently printing images. In 1880, the New York Daily Graphic printed Stephen Horgan’s image ‘A Scene from Shantytown, New York’ which was a…

CMYK Offset Printing
As printing techniques continued to progress at the turn of the 20th century, color became the next big hurdle for photography and eventually printing. With halftone printing, the challenge was being able to better integrate text and image such that…

Creation of Eastman Kodak Company by George Eastman
George Eastman first started to experiment with wet plate photography as an amateur in 1978, but felt the process cumbersome. Inspired by British journals on photography, he began formulating his own dry plate emulsions and eventually designed a…

Clarence Kennedy’s PhD Dissertation on Art and Photography
The argument over the practice of using reproductions was particularly poignant amongst art history scholars and professors at the turn of the century. Clarence Kennedy’s Harvard University Ph.D. dissertation focusing on Greek Sculpture and the…

Kodachrome 35mm slides
Once photography became a stronghold for both professional and personal documentation, the technology continued to develop to become increasingly user-friendly and stable. Many early techniques were laborious and if not conducted properly, the…

Founding of Art Resource
Dr. Theodore Feder, an art history instructor at Columbia University, founded Art Resource in 1968 under the original name of Editorial Photocolor Archives. Originally built as a repository of color images for study and reproduction, it has since…

Digital Photography
Digital Photography is arguably one of the most influential inventions in image sharing technologies. The history of digital photography gets its earliest start from the work of George Smith and Willard Boyle of Bell Laboratories. Originally working…

Bayer Color Filter Array
Following the groundbreaking work of Bell Laboratories to invent the CCD sensors crucial to the formation of digital photography, Bruce Bayer patented the second now standard mechanism in 1976, the Bayer Color Filter Array. Designed to mimic the…

HTML Markup Allows Images to Join the Web
In 1990, Worldwide web founder Tim Berners-Lee was collaborating with other early internet researchers on standardizing computer language and came up with the now standard HTML (HyperText Mark-up Language) programming format. This standardization…

Museum of the History of Science website
Through its affiliation with the University of Oxford, The Museum of the History of Science became one of the first physical museums to make images of objects in their collection available online for the public. At the time, the museum prided itself…

Launch of Google Street View
Google Street View started in 2003 with founder Larry Page experimenting with capturing street level views on a large scale. By 2005, the project had grown in scope and was greatly expanded by the acquisition of a number of companies that provided…

Street View Trolley
The Google Street View trolley, now one of five image-capturing devices that make up Google’s ‘fleet’ has been extremely valuable to the museum world as institutions continue to ameliorate their presence and relevance on the Internet platform. The…

Google Art Project
Many museums around the world have been working tirelessly to make their collections and even publications available online for the public. With the Google Art Project, Google’s Cultural Institute aimed to go one step beyond this by making the actual…

Metropolitan Museum of Art Launches MetPublications
Launched in October 2012, The Metropolitan Museum of Art now offers full access to all museum-published books, journals, and bulletins since 1964 in a web feature called MetPublications. This feature gives the public complete access to museum…