A New Medium for Old Masters: The Kress Study Collection Virtual Museum Project

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1998


The Kress Study Collection Virtual Museum Project was designed for the course "Information Storage and Retrieval," which introduced graduate students in the School of Library and Informational Science at the University of Missouri-Columbia to concepts of electronic storage and retrieval of documents, images, and data, with an emphasis on the design of computer networked access to databases. This project is a prototype of a small virtual museum that presents the University of Missouri-Columbia Museum of Art and Archaeology's Kress Study Collection through digital images and scholarly text stored in a relational database that is accessible on the World Wide Web, and uses new technology for electronic curatorship in a virtual museum. The project's paper describes the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, which holds a rich collection of European artworks, mostly Old Master paintings from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century. Also treated are the digitizing of the Kress paintings, the construction of the database, the realization of Web accessibility, and the problem of defining the virtual museum. A searchable virtual museum based on a user-centered philosophy is hard to find because muse ums are reluctant to make their holdings accessible on the World Wide Web. It is even harder to define, both because of the heated discussion in the museum literature and the fascination of the new medium that often leads to sites lacking quality and a user-driven philosophy.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, v. 17, no. 1, p. 19-27