Two new databases on Internet : the Musee Fabre and the British Museum

29/01/2008 — Internet — Montpellier, France and the United Kingdom — Here are two more Internet tools that will soon become indispensable to art historians.

The Musee Fabre, first off, posted its Internet Website on 25 January. In a very pleasant and user-friendly design, it offers all of the usual selections and a very extensive publication of its collections. This is in fact the first time that a French provincial museum provides net surfers with a digitized version of its complete drawings collection. At the moment, only half of the paintings and sculptures have been photographed but eventually all of the works will be available on the base. We regret that the size of the pictures is really too small but this is to prevent unauthorized copying on the net, not so much for financial reasons since the museum is very generous in handing out photographs to scientific publications that request them as for fear of having articles about its collections circulate without its knowledge. There is no doubt a way of finding a middle ground to avoid the frustration of looking at pictures so small that you can barely see the works.

Let us point out that besides this latest database, the catalogue of the museum’s reference works and its archives (artists’ letters) are also available online. There are plans to expand this documents section and all of the files of works in the collections will one day be posted. Finally, thanks to a unique search engine, one can find any reference, be it to a work, document or archive related to a particular artist or theme.

The British Museum has also recently made available on its website a database of 268,000 works in its collections, of which 110,800 are already digitized. Those corresponding to the field covered by The Art Tribune, drawings and engravings, are fully illustrated. The Museum does not give a precise number, but after several tries it seems that the entire collection, or almost, is available in large format.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 29 janvier 2008

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