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Digital Archives: A Visual History

Stephanie Post, Senior Digital Asset Specialist, Digital Media

Posted: Friday, October 4, 2013

The Metroplitan Museum of Art, Paintings Galleries; View of groups of children, and a mother and daughter in front of Leutze's George Washington Crossing the Delaware (97.34). Photographed July 10, 1905. See Slideshow.

«In addition to images of works of art, the Met's digital archive also documents the Museum's buildings, inside and outside, as they've expanded and changed over time to accommodate works of art and visitors. A veritable treasure trove of visual history, these images offer clues to familiar museum experiences: a child's rebellious stance; a visitor's self-consciousness at being caught on film; managing an oversized coat.» Everyday details such as sagging socks or a hat grasped by the chinstrap make the images so real, and so riveting. The Digital Asset Management group has put together a few slideshows of these images based on common themes and events, which we'll share here in a series of posts.

Furnishing Popular Instruction

In 1912, the Museum was visited by more schoolchildren and their teachers than ever before (Museum Bulletin, Vol. 8, No. 9, Sep., 1913). One teacher, Miss Conolly, transplanted from Missouri, urged all New York City school teachers to make the most of the Museum. Then, as now, an integral part of the Museum's mission was to encourage and develop "the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction."

Based on what Miss Conolly was teaching her class of forty-two girls and boys, a Museum docent helped prepare an itinerary for their visit. "Because the museum had only one Constable, the docent advised Ruysdael [sic] for the second artist. There are three Corots and three Ruysdaels [sic] in the galleries . . . which suited our rough classification well enough."

Today, the Museum's collection includes seven works by John Constable, ninety-six by Camille Corot, and twenty-four by Jacob van Ruisdael.

Department(s): Digital Media


  • Cheryl Westerfeld says:

    There is so much cultural information in photos like these!

    Posted: October 6, 2013, 3:48 p.m.

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About the Author

Stephanie Post is a senior digital asset specialist in the Digital Media Department.

About this Blog

The Digital Media Department leads the creation, production, presentation, and dissemination of multimedia content to support the viewing and understanding of the Met's collection and exhibitions, both within the galleries and online. This blog discusses a few of the activities of the department, and invites your questions and comments about the Museum's digital initiatives.

Above: Jim Campbell (American, born 1956). Motion and Rest #2 (detail), 2002. Light-emitting-diodes (LED) and custom electronics. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Henry Nias Foundation Inc. Gift, 2004 (2004.105). © Jim Campbell