Title:A Virtual Fine Arts Museum on the Web
Authors:Emil Krén, Marx
Publication:MW98: Museums and the Web 1998

In 1996, a multi-stage project was started aiming to establish a free-access public Web site which serves as a virtual museum of fine arts in Hungary. The objectives were 1) to work out the prob-lems connected with the creation of large image collections and their transformation into a vir-tual museum; 2) to set up a collection of large size digital reproductions of Hungarian artworks (suitable for viewing on a screen of 800 x 600 or higher resolution); and 3) to create a virtual museum from the collection. The collection shall include all significant artists (not only Hungarians) who worked within the borders of the country and exerted an influence on the development of art. The technical details of creating and maintaining a virtual museum were elaborated by experimenting with a model entitled "Web Gallery of Art" which presently contains 3000 reproductions of European artworks and is operating since October 1996. The aim of this contribution is to report the results of the first (completed in May, 1997) and second (to be completed in December, 1997) stages of the project. As a result of the first stage, the Web site entitled "Painting in Hungary from the Beginning to the Mid 20th Century" was established. The collection contains 1300 large-size reproductions of artworks by 200 artists, it covers painting, mural paintings, winged altarpieces, miniatures, stained glass windows and tapestries. The large amount of interlinked textual information as well as additional services provided for the visitors make the collection a virtual museum. The biographies of all artists, the essential data of all artworks, and comments on the most important artworks are given in two identical, Hungarian and English language versions. The "navigation" in the museum is easy, the presentation is organized, pleasing and user-friendly. A powerful search engine makes it possible to search the collection for specific picture or information. At the end of the second stage the number of reproductions exceeds 2000, the collection extends to sculpture (including medieval stone and wooden carvings), virtual "guided tours" are offered to view different cross-sections of the collection. The technical aspects of creating and maintaining the collection, the operating experiences of a one year period (including a summary of visitors' response), and plans for the third stage will also be reported.