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Press release

METROPOLITAN MUSEUM LAUNCHES NEW AND EXPANDED WEB SITE to Provide Unprecedented Access to Collections, Exhibitions, Educational Resources, Store, Programs and Other Offerings of Metropolitan Museum

(New York, January 25, 2000)—The Metropolitan Museum of Art today launches online a new and entirely redesigned Web site — — that will offer Internet users throughout the world unprecedented access to the Museum's collections, exhibitions, educational resources, calendar of programs, publications, reproductions, and full range of activities and holdings. The site — which has been designed and developed by the Metropolitan Museum in cooperation with the leading Internet professional services firm, Icon Nicholson (formerly Nicholson NY) — is visually rich with works of art from the Metropolitan's collections, and will have special features created specifically for the Web site, including an interactive Museum calendar, memberships, exhibition previews, educational features, and 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 will be added on a continuing basis.

Philippe de Montebello, Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, noted: "The World Wide Web — despite its brief evolution to date — has already proven to be the primary means by which millions of people throughout the world now gather information for a wide range of purposes, such as enhancing their education, making travel plans, and shopping. The Metropolitan's Web site has been immensely popular since it was created in 1995, serving nearly three million visitors in the past year alone, including those who are regular visitors to our premises, those who travel only occasionally to New York, and those who, for whatever reasons, cannot enter our doors. With this expanded site — which will continue to evolve — a much deeper level of information about the Metropolitan Museum will be available for the first time outside its walls concerning its collections, its educational mission, and its programs and other offerings. I hope that Web visitors will use this compendium of information to enhance their time in our galleries, or to become familiar with our holdings and activities from afar."

Major features of the new Web site include:
Splash page (or introductory page). Each day, the Museum will present a new ArtiFact to greet visitors as they enter the site, allowing them to learn something new about the Metropolitan and its collections on a daily basis. Each ArtiFact includes an image with a capsule of information about it. These ArtiFacts will be archived after the 24-hour period of time that they are featured on the splash page.

Home page. The Metropolitan Museum's home page has been redesigned to allow visitors direct access to all of the key sections of the site, and will include an index and site-wide search, as well as short highlights of what is going on in the Museum.

The Collection. At the time of the new Web site's launch in late January, significant portions of the Museum's collections will be available for viewing. In addition to highlighting at least 50 images of works of art from each of the Metropolitan's 18 curatorial areas (such as Asian art), a "Director's Choices" tour will feature 25 masterpieces selected by Director Philippe de Montebello, and an area on new acquisitions will spotlight works of art entering the collection. Featured highlights will also be presented from the collections of The Cloisters — the Metropolitan's branch museum for medieval art — and the Antonio Ratti Textile Center, as well as from the holdings of the Thomas J. Watson Library. Almost 2,000 works from the Department of European Paintings will be available online, and works from other collections will be added on an ongoing basis. The visitor may view 50 highlights at once, view ten at a time, view text only, or choose to concentrate on a single art object. An enlarged view is also available for each art object. A robust search function will allow visitors to search for object-related information online by date, country, artist, title, or keyword.

A selection of images may be viewed in detail using FlashPix technology provided by MGI Software.

A special feature of the new site will be My Met Gallery, which allows visitors to store their favorite images online.

Special Exhibitions. "Previews" will feature images and information from current and upcoming exhibitions at the Metropolitan. At the time the new site launches, for example, previews will be available in connection with the exhibitions "Only the Best": Masterpieces of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon and Rock Style in The Costume Institute, as well as on the newly reopened and reinstalled Galleries for Ancient Near Eastern Art. Previews will be available for all of the Museum's special exhibitions, with special online features developed in conjunction with a few key exhibitions each season. As exhibitions close in the Museum's galleries, the previews will be archived. The Metropolitan Museum mounts more than 30 special exhibitions each year, and information on all exhibitions currently on view or due to open within a year will be available online.

Explore & Learn. The Museum has created 26 online educational features for use by teachers, students, and the public, and will continue to add more. These features cover a wide range of subjects, including information on individual artists and/or works of art, explorations of a theme or culture, and just-for-fun activities. Explore & Learn also offers extensive resource modules on ancient Egypt and on Byzantium, which will be of special interest to teachers.

Calendar. The online calendar of Museum events and programs will be easy to read and interactive, including information on all current programs — special exhibitions, educational offerings, concerts, lectures, and new installations. Web users may search out particular events and programs by subject, by date, or by a number of other criteria, and may even create My Met Calendar, a personalized list of preferences. Users may request email reminders from the Museum about particular events, and forward email notices to friends.

Events & Programs. The Museum creates programs — such as tours, lectures, symposia, film showings, and teacher-training workshops — that are attended annually by about 350,000 Museum visitors, students from grade school to the university level, and teachers. Comprehensive listings and descriptions of all of the programs available to the general public will be available online in this section.

Educational Resources. This area provides information on the Museum's libraries, as well as online access to the Thomas J. Watson Library and the Lita Annenberg Hazen and Joseph H. Hazen Center for Electronic Information Resources. The Watson Library has a collection of approximately 450,000 books and periodicals relating to the history of art and is one of the most comprehensive collections in the world. The Hazen Center, which is part of the Watson Library, provides access to a wide range of World Wide Web-based resources and other online information on the history of art.

The Met Store. Since its founding in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum has offered for sale reproductions of works from its collections, as well as publications about art. More than 1,000 fine art reproductions, exhibition catalogues, and other Museum publications produced by the Metropolitan will be available for sale online in January. This area of the Web site includes Browse the Met Store, a section designed to allow the visitor to see the Museum's offerings by category, such as Books, Sculpture, or Jewelry. Each individual product page will feature a full description, an enlarged view, and a selection of related products. Other sections are devoted to Featured Items, Special Values, and products From Our Exhibitions, which relate to the Metropolitan's curatorial areas and special exhibitions on view. A Gift Guide offers recommendations based on price ranges within ten holidays and special occasions. Visitors may also Request a Mail-order Catalogue online and Search the Met Store for products relating to a particular artist or style, or to locate a specific product. About the Original provides further detail about an object's origin, significance, or use. For selected items, art historical information and an image of the actual work of art in the Museum's collection will accompany the product description. Easy-to-follow Customer Service and contact information are also provided.

Membership. Since 1996, all categories of Metropolitan Museum memberships have been available for purchase online, including Met Net, a special membership designed specifically for use online. As of January 25, all Museum members will be able to download a favorite work of art from a selection of screen savers, sign up or renew memberships online, and listen to special audio tours that are available just for them online. A special section of the online Met Store for members will offer selected products at discounts beyond the year-round membership discount of ten percent.

Support the Met will provide information on sponsorship and giving opportunities at the Museum. Contributions to the Metropolitan Museum may now be made online with a credit card. This section also provides an opportunity for Web users to order tickets for Museum benefits, such as the December Costume Institute gala.

News from the Met. This special area has been created to keep journalists and the public up-to-date with brief Museum news items, and it will include a letter from Director Philippe de Montebello, updated bimonthly, on current issues and exhibitions. News from the Met also provides editors and journalists with access to all of the Museum's current press releases, as well as to an archive of press releases dating back as far as January 1999.

Visitor Information. Floor plans of the Museum and general information for visitors about Museum hours, location, and access will be available in this section in six languages — English, French, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, German, and Chinese.

Email newsletters. Web visitors may choose to receive "newsletters," or regular updates, from the Metropolitan Museum on subjects of their choice — general news, special exhibitions, educational and family programs, membership events and programs, and special offers and new product information from The Met Store.

Upcoming Features and Services Over the next few months, new features will be added to the site, among them virtual reality tours of some of the Metropolitan's galleries, including the period rooms of The American Wing, and expanded audio and video features. The Museum plans to double the number of objects from its collection that are available online over the course of the next year.

The Museum will also explore the potential of distance learning about museum collections and the visual arts.

In spring 2000, the Metropolitan will launch a number of marketing initiatives, including an affiliates program that will allow The Met Store to establish revenue-sharing programs with a select group of Web sites. The Museum also plans to build long-term strategic alliances with other Web sites.

Within the next year, several features using interactive technology — such as moderated discussions, live communication, and personalized content — will be incorporated into the site, enhancing the Museum's ability to communicate with visitors one at a time.

The newly redesigned site reflects a long-term effort at the Metropolitan Museum to improve significantly the look, feel, and navigational aspects of the Web site, with a special emphasis on ensuring that the site is not only easy to navigate for all users, but is also visually seductive and represents the high standards of image quality and design that the Museum maintains in all its endeavors. While technically state-of-the-art, the site also allows the maximum number of users easy access, regardless of age, level of proficiency with computers, and type of equipment.

Since the Metropolitan Museum created its site in October 1995, visitorship has continued to double each year. In 1999 this translated into approximately 250,000 visitors and 1,250,000 page views per month, with a total of three million visitors for the year.

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.

In characterizing the Metropolitan, Director Philippe de Montebello wrote in 1995 that it is now "a collection of museums, each deserving of many repeated visits. It is a vast storehouse of knowledge, where works of art are held for reference as well as for display; its collections are meant to be consulted as one chooses from a long menu. Indeed, the strength of the Met is that all under one roof it provides an almost infinite number of options for many rich and rewarding visits…Every conceivable peregrination is possible because the Met is a universal museum: every category of art in every known medium from every part of the world is represented here and thus available for contemplation or study — and not in isolation but in comparison with other times, other cultures, and other media."

Of the redesign and expansion of the Museum's Web site, Mr. de Montebello recently stated: "The global venue of the World Wide Web is one more important way in which the Metropolitan Museum can continue to fulfill its mission to present as well as educate people about the greatest achievements in the history of art. By reaching out through this new medium to people of all ages and technical abilities — from schoolchildren using donated computers in their classrooms to technology aficionados with state-of-the-art equipment — we believe that we can educate, fascinate, and provide a gateway to an enhanced appreciation of art."

The Museum is hosting its site externally at Digex Inc.

Icon Nicholson created a database structure for the Metropolitan that is dynamically generating a significant portion of the new site. In addition, the Museum is linking to a number of its existing computer systems, in the areas of collections management, mail order, inventory, membership, and development.

James Sherman of WestEnd New Media provided valuable assistance during the creation of the new Web site.

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January 25, 2000

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