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MFA Boston Rolls Out New iPad Catalogue of American Collection

by An Xiao on March 15, 2012

MFA Boston's Paintings of the Americas "app" offers a clean, easy to navigate interface with rich content about their collection.

MFA Boston's Paintings of the Americas "app" offers a clean, easy to navigate interface with rich content about their collection.

LOS ANGELES — The iPad catalog trend continues, this time with a gorgeous new digital catalogue released by the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. Celebrating their Paintings of the Americas collection, the catalogue offers a timeline of American history through painting, with chapters like “The Colonies Go for Baroque” and a section on 19th C. painter John Singer Sargent.

The landing page for Paintings of the Americas looks great on an iPad but also works on any standard computer.

The landing page for Paintings of the Americas looks great on an iPad but also works on any standard computer.

The “app” is actually a website, and while it works well on the iPad’s screen, it can also be viewed on a regular computer, where the majority of viewers will probably be accessing it. This makes it a good middle ground for museums who want to increase access: in one fell swoop (and budget line), the catalogue can be made available for those with regular desktops, and laptops but also for the techno-fashionable lot.

“Paintings of the Americas in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is the MFA’s first online catalogue dedicated to a specific area of the collection,” wrote director Malcolm Rogers in the introduction. “It offers the rich information one might find in a printed catalogue while taking advantage of digital media’s unique capabilities.”

The site moves smoothly enough, but it’s so image heavy that it can take some time to load and scroll through. But it’s worth it: the paintings themselves are rendered in gorgeous detail and explanatory text helps us understand the context. It’s great to see more museums moving toward making their catalogues accessible to more people.

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