Title:Is Bigger Better? Web Delivery of High-Resolution Images from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Authors:Maria Daniels
Publication:MW2000: Museums and the Web 2000

At the turn of the twenty-first century, the first stage of museum digitization is now well underway. Many museums have initiated and made headway on projects to put their holdings on-line, package their collections management databases into Web sites, and produce curatorial content for a worldwide, on-line audience. As institutions move into the second phase of these developments, which emerging technologies show the most promise for museums and their audiences? Which principles should form the core of a museum's digitization strategy over the long term? How will improved access to museum collections affect research possibilities for a broad range of people, both in academia and among the general public? Working together since 1997 to digitize an important collection of Roman art, the Perseus Project and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, have addressed these and other questions. This paper will focus on the development of a new archive of photographs, and discuss the decision-making and technical processes behind delivering high-resolution images of museum objects via the Web. Copyright protection, storage and delivery of many large files, interface, the viewer's experience, curatorial concerns, and other issues have been important considerations. Underlying our efforts has been the belief that, in the new environment of networked access to museum resources, museums have an opportunity to transform education.