Maintaining Online Collections p.2

Tools: None

If you’re here, I’ll assume you’ve either completed the custom post type plugin in Maintaining Online Art Collections Part 1, or have a custom post type set up yourself. While the previous tutorial involved concrete work and a final goal, this tutorial will get you thinking about how to display your online art collections. While I can give suggestions, it will ultimately be up to you to decide what to use and what doesn’t apply to your situation.

Ok, so let’s take a look at an object page from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website.


Let’s step back from the design and break down the contents of this object’s page into three distinct sections.


Header Section


This section should have info that is necessary for the casual viewer; think of it as the moment that the viewer sees it in the gallery. Present are the Title, Date, Images and Short Description. The Met also includes a small amount of additional information like location in the gallery and a link to the artist’s other work. These are nice details that aren’t necessary but add to the usefulness of the page.

There’s also a nice enlargeable image and alternate views of the work.

Object Details

The object detail section includes additional information that is useful for the casual viewer but is aimed at researchers and students. Here we have origin, medium, dimensions and collection details. In web development, we call this type of info Meta Data.

The goal is to make the meta data as easy to manage as possible and have it feed into your design properly.


Extra Info

This last section is also meta data, but serves a slightly different function; here it’s info for academics and institutions.

You may find that you have no need for information like this, but it’s good to keep any data that wouldn’t interest the casual viewer in a separate, distinct area. This allows visitors who need to access the object for research to easily find the data they need without confusing visitors who may want more superficial information.

Why is this important?

Chances are that your collection isn’t as expansive as that at the Met, but it’s important to start thinking about what you have and how you want to display it.

What are your goals as an institution? How do you want to present your collection to the public online? Should it be easily accessible by the general public or will some objects live behind a login wall?

These are all questions you should ask yourself and I’ll try to address as many of them as possible in upcoming posts.

If you have any questions or would like me to focus on a specific area, leave a comment below and I’ll try to include it in a future post.

Onwards to the next post in the series, Maintaining Online Collections p.3, where we begin laying it out. Don’t miss it, this is where it gets good.

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