Thursday, August 15, 2013

Free Online Art Books and Catalogues!

The financial cost of many high-quality art books and exhibition catalogues can sometimes be off-putting. While it's possible to suggest a purchase for Library books relating to your learning at GSA, the growing trend to open access in the academic world is opening up a number of opportunities to view scholarly research and even entire books online! Following this theme, we're delighted to learn about free electronic resources being made available from two of New York's famous institutions: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

The Metropolitan Museum launched MetPublications last year, a project which aims to offer digital access to almost all books and journals published by the Metropolitan since 1870. The collection is sprouting up with an impressive 700 free art books and catalogues available to the art community at the last count! There's a broad international perspective with just about every area of the visual and decorative arts covered. The period from 1964 to the present day profiles highly although watch out for some of the in-print titles which may only be previewed with a link to purchase the book. Thankfully, the contents of all other titles can be read online or downloaded as PDF files which still manages to cover a broad spectrum of the arts.

Meanwhile, its neighbour, the Guggenheim Museum has made 99 art catalogues available for free, offering visual introductions to the exhibitions of many significant artists. To search, select a text from the collection and click the "Read Catalogue Online" button which will allow you to begin reading the catalogue in a pop-up browser.

These latest searchable art databases are indicative of the digital future of library and museum collections. Glasgow Museums virtual tour of Kelvingrove, and the Rijksmuseum 'Rijks Studio' in Amsterdam are two examples of actual collections being put online; both of which we've blogged about about in the past.