Anyway, it's all about the content - easy access to high-quality zoomable images of some of the world's best artworks in an interface with lots of relevant information and links back to the holding institution is a win for everyone. And if the attention (and traffic) makes museums a little jealous, well, it'll be fascinating to see how that translates into action. After all, keeping up with the Joneses seems to be one way museums change...
Reading some online stories about the launch, I was struck by how far conversations about traditional and online galleries have come. From one:
As users explore the galleries they can also add comments to each painting and share the whole collection with friends and family. Try doing that in the Tate Modern. Actually, don’t.Although, of course, you can - it's traditionally known as 'having a conversation in a museum'.
But in 2012, is visiting a website and sharing links online seen as a reasonable stand-in for the physical visit to a museum, leaving the in-person gallery visit for 'purists' and enthusiasts? (This might make blockbuster exhibtions bearable.) Or, as the consensus of the past decade has it, does it just whet the appetite and create demand for an experience with the original object, leading to more visits?