You no longer need to go to London to discover the treasures of the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). The British institution recently launched a new digital platform allowing art fans to discover over 1.2 million objects from its collection.
In one digital space, "Explore the Collections" brings together documents, images and various kinds of content about the London museum's vast and eclectic collection. Although the platform has been in development for two years, the recent launch of a beta version "comes at a vital time when the way audiences engage with museums and their collections has changed dramatically -- particularly during the last year of the global pandemic," explains Tim Reeve, Deputy Director & COO at the V&A.
This new site was designed to offer a "more intuitive experience" than the museum's previous online catalog, which, since 2009, hosted detailed records of the millions of garments, accessories, photographs and artworks in the collection. "The V&A looks after over 2.3 million exceptional objects, archives and books, but much of what we hold cannot be displayed in our buildings. This project is about sharing as much as we can, with as many people as possible," said Kati Price, Head of Digital Media and Publishing at the V&A.
As a result, "Explore the Collections" proposes functions such as automatic keyword suggestion, as well as options to filter and map the objects currently on show in the museum's various galleries. Videos and online articles relating to exhibitions and events previously organized by the museum are also available for curious browsers. If you missed out on Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei's show as part of the V&A's "Fashion in Motion" event, for example, you can now see it online . Another new addition is found on the page detailing Mary Quant's famous "Georgie" dress, which now features a downloadable sewing pattern for anyone brave enough to have a go at making their own version.
In recent months, many museums have been ramping up their digital initiatives in efforts to enable the public to continue interacting with their collections in spite of the pandemic. The phenomenon is such that several research projects have been launched in the UK to study public reaction to these new experiences and to determine what can be learned from the initiatives when it comes to the future of the sector.