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Rijksmuseum Leads the Way with Their New Digital Collection

by Kyle Chayka on November 19, 2012

A Flower collection on Rijksstudio (Screen capture by Hyperallergic)

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has joined the ranks of Artsy, Pinterest, Google Art Project, and Artstack in creating a way for letting audiences digitally engage with art. The difference between the museum and the technology start-ups is that the Rijksmuseum actually owns the artwork it presents.

Amazing details, like this boatload of characters in a 17th C. painting by Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, come alive in the digitally zoomable versions. (via rijksmuseum.nl)

Through its new Rijksstudio platform, the museum presents an extremely elegant, slick interface to browse its vast collection, ranging through everything from Dutch Old Masters to 19th-century Japanese paintings. The grid-based system shows interactive, zoomable images of iconic paintings, furniture, and sculpture that can also be liked, saved, and shared on Facebook and Twitter. These range from Vermeer classics to Van Gogh self-portraits and a certain very intricate dresser.

The taxonomy of the site is powerful. Each work is labeled with its artist, genre (“Biblical scenes”), and subject matter (“Feasts”), and there’s even a tag page for “Masterpieces.” The system will only grow more useful as users create their own collections, curating and organizing the collection into new combinations. There’s even a survey that helps determine what art you might be interested in — though that questionnaire tends toward the abstract, asking your favorite vacation destination, colors, and character types.

Rijksstudio also presents a kind of new business model for the museum — similar to how museums like the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Modern Art already offer reproductions of works they own, the Rijksmuseum is offering the ability to order custom-cropped prints directly from the new website. The Met must be getting pretty jealous right about now.

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