Thursday, 1 October 2009

Pre-Raphaelites online from the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery



image source
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
One of the takeouts from my recent UK trip that still holds was the chance to go and look out some of the big ticket numbers in the Tate Britain from their 19th Pre Raphaelite collection.

Desperate Romantics
My interest in The Brotherhood goes back a while. However, it also came front of mind courtesy of the truly bizarre recent BBC series, Desperate Romantics,  which I managed to catch on my trip on BBC iPlayer. No doubt this will come to NZ fairly soon, either on pay to view, or less likely these days, on the local public broadcaster, TVNZ.

Beautiful Tosh
When it does, I am going to be interested in how many episodes people get into before they realise, as I did, that despite the lavish art direction, it is probably one of the worst pieces of dramatic license ever scammed on an unsuspecting public who came looking for drama and, instead are given formulaic soap mashed with farce, and great sex scenes.

That said, being television - it did bring some of the paintings back into view here -  as well as make for some welcome, albeit cursory,  links from art to politics, in the work of William Morris - even if again, the series managed to make the latter look a fool, which, even on a cursory glance #, he most certainly wasn't.


Pre Raphaelite. Org from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
All of which is a really nice seque into today's discovery from Culture 24- albeit a couple of months late - that Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery recently launched an online resource for studying the art of the Pre-Raphaelites, offering access to 2,000 pieces from their collection, here

It's a stunner of a project. The BMAG has an amazing collection of the works of the Brotherhood - and in addition to paintings, hundreds of their sketches and drawings. 


Features
As well as all the usual suspects - search - browse - and zoom etc there is a neat personalisation feature which lets people gather a selection of works, and then publish them as public folders. There are a few there worth a look, including some from a couple of curators, as well as a fan of the TV series.

The JISC connection
The project  was a partnership  with the UK JISC, who in turn have put up a neat summary of their take on the project and its importance. They also contextualize  this project with other work they have supported. All of which is here.

Note on the Silverlight platform
The site uses Microsoft Silverlight for the zoom feature. As is known the latter hopes to become an alternative to the ubiquitous Adobe Flash. I'm wondering if they have had any feedback on this?

I ask because, here at McGovern, we have used Silverlight for an online gallery tool. It's still in beta and not in general public view. However, I'm  hearing some reaction from some test users in the local museum community that getting the Silverlight plugin past their IT/Server police is going to be yet another fight some of whom dont want to have?

Silverlight Feedback?
I'm curious to know if anyone else has had this issue? I for one think that Silverlight is a useful and interesting addition to the collection sector online tool box - and fail to see why Adobe/Flash should be given automatic incumbant status?

Update: 28th November 2009
JISC have written this project up and posted links to the Project Plan and the Final Report

Download the project plan2
Download the final report

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