Beauty, Virtue & Vice

I am always interested in how museums choose to digitalize collections as well as exhibitions, and the relationship between the these two categories. Some sort of online presence is necessary for the future of these institutions, and instead of threatening visitorship, I think they will reach global audiences, aid students and scholars whose access to collections is shrinking by the minute, and inspire the public to see these objects for themselves on the museum's campus.

While I am becoming disenchanted with the idea of static display of costume and am truly bored of straightforward shows about famous designers, it's better than nothing, and gets people in the door both of the museum and the field of historic costume. Because not everyone can get to New York City, I love the MCNY's online exhibition about Worth and Mainbocher. Pretty, simple, accessible, chronological, and with a focus on the visual, the objects are truly valued here. We get a quick and easy background, technical details, and sometimes even some "other views" that might not be available to the visitor to the exhibition.
Suit with Blouse, 1934, Worth, Paris. From the MCNY Collections.
I wish every exhibition came with such an extensive website! It's not like they should feel pressured to replicate the exhibition online; that's obviously impossible. To create a dynamic key to the objects, themes, and theses presented seems like it should be standard by now, adding to the exhibition instead of mimicking it in a flat format.

Another great example that I've just come upon is the Beauty, Virtue & Vice website to accompany the exhibition of the same name at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA. Exploring images of women in nineteenth-century America (up to about 1876, the date cap AAS has established for itself), this website is also straightforward, easy to use, and succinct.

"The Pride of New England", c.1827-45, black and
white lithograph. From the AAS Collections.

This example is much more text-based, intended to briefly introduce major themes of the exhibition, finely illustrated with contemporary prints and artworks. While the objects themselves and their production are taken into consideration, the representations are the focus here, and the two-dimensional nature of the works lends itself somewhat more easily to the website format.

It's exciting to see museums thinking not only forward but also laterally, globally, and using these resources in which we are better versed with every passing year to reach wider audiences in a way that is familiar to them, and perhaps even...democratic?

What do you think of these, do you like them? What are other online exhibitions you like? Do you agree that some sort of dynamic online presence is vital to the success of museums and other object collections?

Maybe I start another sidebar of great exhibition websites?