After more than two years’ hard work it’s a great pleasure to be able to offer a first online version of the database of the Picasso Museum’s catalogue, with more than two thousand works. Making the collection accessible online was one of the major objectives for 2009.
It is difficult to transmit the muddle of mixed feelings: first of all a high degree of satisfaction (almost emotion!), to finally see tangible results for such an effort put in by the whole team who have collaborated and opened up to the public a thorough knowledge about our collection of the works of Picasso. I will mention just a few of the functionalities that the system presents:
- Technical details of about 2,500 works (title, place and year, technique, dimensions, Registry number)
- 1,400 images
- access to works related to the one we are looking at, which is a way of enriching the consultation.
- the advanced search lets you match techniques, materials and years.
- the browser of free text search(quick and simple, like Google) and that at the same time lets you see groups of works of the same theme (portraits, father, Barcelona, old, and a long etcetera).
- the results of the search can be seen in the form of a list, or with a gallery of images in diverse formats (2×3, 4×5, etc)
- as you consult works you can mark them as “favourites” and see them in groups or print them.
Who took part?
A multi-disciplinary team of the museum has been working on the revision and updating of the catalogue of the collection, made up of 4,000 works, as well as the digitisation of the artworks.
The work carried out by the Registrar’s Department, with Anna Fàbregas in charge, has been crucial: Registrar has been the hard core of the project, both in terms of the revision of the collection of the works, as well as the introduction of the data, and the definition and validation of the different phases of putting it together on Internet.
This has really been a team effort, given clear priority by the director, which has also included the collaboration of the departments of Preventive Conservation and Restoration, Conservation of the Collection, Photographic Archive, and the Library, as well, of course, as the Internet section. All of this without leaving the museum. There have also been other services that have contributed, such as the Departments of Heritage and of Communication of the Institute of Culture and the municipal IT services, as well as external providers (programmers), and the General Directorate of Heritage of the Generalitat de Catalunya, the promoter of the project Museus en línia, (Museums Online). Finally, the Picasso Administration, the owner of the reproduction rights of Picasso’s works, with the headquarters in Paris, who gave the go-ahead for the publication of the collection online.
As you can imagine with this diversity of agents and institutions involved, the orchestration of the project has been complex and not without some critical moments in the fixing of priorities and, above all, “domesticating” the technological difficulties that have had to be dealt with, so that we struggled that logic and usability took priority over the imperatives of the software!
What is there left to do?
Despite all the work we have done we still haven’t achieved the perfect tool that the museum needs and the users deserve. Therefore, among other feelings, apart from happiness, there is also a point of dissatisfaction at not having been able yet to achieve some challenges:
– The complete translation to Spanish and English (at the moment just the names of the fields are translated and the interactive features of the highlights).
– The elaboration of an explicative text of each work (the forty highlights do have this).
– The possibility of introducing social tagging that have given such good results to those museums around the world that have incorporated them. This basically means that the users can give key words to describe a museum object. We’ll talk more about this on another day on the blog.
This, it is clear, leads to a third type of reaction, that of the feeling of commitment to make all this possible soon, and a certain sense of overwhelming about the amount of work still to be done, which is added to all the other projects and new ways that the museum is opening up. But this isn’t a cause for despondency because the most difficult and laborious work is already done and today you can all be participants in the result.
Participants… and critics: please send us your opinion, your comments, good or bad experiences, fulfilled expectations or not. Knowing all this helps us to complete and improve the online catalogue. You can do so here on the blog or by any other of the channels we have open on Facebook, Twitter.
Do you find browsing the catalogue easy and usable? And the search engine?
If you answer more than just yes or no and explain a little, we would be doubly grateful!