(Not so) surprisingly, the amount of art pieces on view in an art museum rarely reaches over 20% of its entire collection.
Various kinds of aspects ranging from curatorial narrative, limited physical spaces, to condition of the artworks, can restrain the number of artworks to be physically shown in a museum space.
Precedents & My Experiments
Museums are also aware of the issue, and trying to address it through the help of digital platforms.
While oftentimes museums and institutions hold large collection of data that is well organized and clearly documented, the usage of this data still leaves plenty of space for implementing new ways of applications.
It is possible for museums and institutions to make their collections more accessible to their visitors by utilizing collection data. I decided to create a series of interactive websites exploring educational and experimental ways of presenting the artwork data.
Using the Harvard Arts Museum API, my first experiment allows users to browse past collections randomly. The website pulls up information including the title and webpage of the exhibition, the dates and documentation photo of the show.
I used the Cooper Hewitt API to create a playful experiment with documented photos from the museum's collection. The website extracts color themes from the photo and let user create freely on a web canvas with their drawings.
Using the Harvard Arts Museum API, I created another data visualization experiment in 3 approaches. "Explore Specific Artist" shows artwork data listed on the creation timeline of an artist; "Visualize the Collection" visualizes the various types and medium of artworks the museum has collected; "Least Viewed Artworks" shows artworks that have the least visit from the museum's website.
The production time of each piece took around 1 to 2 weeks. Potential next steps can be continue exploring in both educational and experimental routes, with data visualization and audience engagement through online platforms.
This problem of limited physical display is also evolving, with MoMA reestablishing their curatorial system, I’m looking forward to how museums can improve the accessibility of art collection in other methods.