Website for Musée de l’Histoire de France posted online

17/12/2008 — Internet website — Versailles — The public establishment of Versailles in its continuing endeavor to enhance the Musée de l’Histoire de France through its restoration is offering increased access to the general public by posting a new website for the museum.
For the moment, the result is a bit disappointing. Visitors to the site can stroll through what resembles a virtual gallery, organized chronologically or by theme (great figures, kings, Louis XIV, Marie-Antoinette…). By clicking on the small vignettes, without really understanding what they represent, readers obtain a larger image accompanied by notes. Texts are exclusively iconographic and we would have liked to see information on the artists, styles, commissions, etc. Therefore there is not really a true database nor a method for researching cross-references. The number of works is not sufficient (barely 400 out of 7500 paintings and sculptures in the holdings) and they are not easy to find.
Some sections are devoted to a visit of the main rooms (thanks to short films and slide shows), a brief historical background and news items from Actualités (so far, there are only short presentations on current exhibitions). The trend of “web 2.0” is also applied here, thus meaning that the website is intended to encourage participation from viewers by writing and publishing texts on the works and the periods, much like Wikipedia. Knowing the sometimes dubious reliability of this encyclopedia on anything concerning art history, one might have serious concerns about this idea.
This disappointment should however not prevent readers from remembering the other, remarkable sites created by Versailles : Exterior Sculpted Décor (see news item of 11/8/08) and the Iconographic Catalogue of the Hall of Mirrors (see news item of 27/12/05 only in french).

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Didier Rykner, mercredi 17 décembre 2008

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