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METROPOLITAN MUSEUM INAUGURATES VIRTUAL REALITY ON WEB SITE

The Web site of The Metropolitan Museum of Art — www.metmuseum.org — now offers unprecedented access to six of the Museum's historic American period rooms, through state-of-the-art Virtual Reality technology that allows online visitors to "tour" the rooms through all-inclusive, three dimensional views. The six rooms — which are on permanent view in the Metropolitan Museum's American Wing, installed with some of the finest American decorative art objects in the collection — date from the 17th to the 20th century, from the living hall of a pre-1674 home from Ipswich, Massachusetts, to a Frank Lloyd Wright living room from Wayzata, Minnesota (1912–14). The online presentation of the rooms offers views of the rooms as well as extensive historical and contextual information about the architecture, furniture and decorative objects, and interior decoration of each, provided by The American Wing's curatorial staff.

The production of the Virtual Reality feature on the Web site is the first stage of the Museum's plans to make its collections further available to online viewers. It has been made possible by Michael Finkelstein and Sue-ann Friedman. Additional support has been provided by the Roslyn and Leslie Goldstein Foundation.

The six rooms now online are all from the Museum's renowned American Wing, which houses one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of American art in existence — more than 17,000 paintings, sculptures, and decorative art objects — all of which are accessible to the public on four floors of gallery and study areas. They have been selected from the wing's 25 furnished period rooms, which feature original woodwork and furnishings, and together offer an unparalleled view of American art history and domestic life. The six rooms are: the Hart Room, a multipurpose family hall from a mid-17th-century home in Ipswich, Massachusetts; the Verplanck Room, a pre-Revolutionary parlor from Coldenham, New York, featuring one New York City family's portraits and furnishings; the Richmond Room, an 1810 Virginia parlor furnished with high-style works by the New York City cabinetmakers Duncan Phyfe and Charles-Honoré Lannuier; a Gothic Revival Library of 1859 built by the architect Frederick Clarke Withers in Newburgh, New York; the Renaissance Revival Parlor from a stately Connecticut residence, described by a newspaper of the time as being "fitted up in the Marie Antoinette style of art"; and the living room from the Wayzata, Minnesota, Prairie-style house designed for Mr. and Mrs. Francis W. Little by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1912–1914.

Einzig Interactive Photographers developed the Virtual Reality feature for the Metropolitan Museum's site.

The site is designed using java technology to deliver a cutting-edge plug-in- free interactive experience to any visitor with a java-enabled browser and a 28.8 baud or faster Internet connection. High-bandwidth users may use the Live Picture version of the feature, which contains higher resolution images but requires the Live Picture plug-in.

The Metropolitan Museum's new and entirely redesigned Web site has had more than 5.2 million visits since its launch in January 2000. The site offers Internet users throughout the world access to the Museum's collections, exhibitions, educational resources, calendar of programs, publications, reproductions, and full range of activities and holdings. Designed and developed by the Metropolitan Museum in cooperation with Icon Medialab (formerly Icon Nicholson), it is visually rich with works of art from the Metropolitan's collections, and has special features created specifically for the Web site, including an interactive Museum calendar, MetNet memberships, exhibition previews, educational features, and email newsletters, as well as personalized areas in which visitors can, for example, store images of their favorite works of art and create a customized calendar. New features and information are added on a continuing basis.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world's largest and finest art museums. Its collections include more than two million works of art spanning 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe. Founded in 1870 to bring art and art education to the American people, the Museum is located in New York City's Central Park along Fifth Avenue. Last year, it was visited by 5.2 million people.

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April 17, 2001

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