Navigating the collection online at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

Web Crit
Kristin Taylor, Museum of Contemporary Photography, USA, Chaz Olajide, Museum of Contemporary Photography, USA

In 2012, the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) commissioned artist Jan Tichy to develop a project and exhibition based on the museum’s collection in order to further connections between the museum and the public. Over the course of the year, Tichy worked with a group of graduate students recruited from across Chicago to improve the museum’s online collection interface with tagging applications and website design strategies. As part of the effort to increase the visibility of the MoCP, he designed a new Cornerstone Gallery that is installed on the façade of the museum on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Harrison Street. For the inaugural Cornerstone exhibition, he invited six international curators and five students to organize digital exhibitions of works from the collection. He updated the Cornerstone Gallery several times over the course of the year with exhibitions organized by various groups, including museum educators, cultural producers, and artists.

Since the Tichy project ended, the MoCP has continued to invite people to curate the Cornerstone Gallery exhibitions. As the program grows beyond its original purpose, we are running into challenges related to categorizing each exhibition in a way that is easily digestible and navigable to the public.

We are also looking for feedback about the overall user experience in navigating our collections at large. Within the past few years, we added the ability for users to tag artworks and we added “Collection Highlights” as well as the ability to browse the collection alphabetically. We are curious about impressions from first time users of our website in navigating information related to the collection and feedback on ways to better enable that experience and to encourage users to dig deeper into exploring the collection.

Bibliography:
Brooklyn Museum:
http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/tag_game/start.php

For digitally displaying many images in creative ways:
SF MoMA artscape:
http://www.sfmoma.org/projects/artscope/

For collection search interface and collection highlights:
http://www.imamuseum.org/collections/browse-collection
http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online