Virtually a curator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales


Published Friday, 4 November 2005

Open the lid and take a peek at the process of curating exhibitions in public spaces, because the AGNSW introduces students, artists and emerging curators to the logistics of pulling together a major public exhibition.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales in May 2005 launched an interesting, new way for those interested in museums and curatorship to explore and interact with its collection, online: myVirtualGallery.

In a first for Australia, and one of only a handful of related projects worldwide, myVirtualGallery gives visitors insight into the role of a curator, by allowing them to assemble their own exhibitions, using artworks from the Gallery's extensive collection. It even gives them the opportunity to contribute their exhibitions to the website.

Creating an exhibition is simple: starting with a single wall, search the collection, choose an artwork and write a short introduction. Then give the exhibition a working title and click "SAVE". Continue building - taking as much time as you like - by adding extra walls and artworks.

Two years in the making, myVirtualGallery. is the brainchild of Jonathan Cooper, the Gallery"s Manager of Information. "The general idea of a virtual gallery has been bouncing around in my head since 1998," said Cooper, "but it wasn't until I saw the experimental "Virtual Gallery" of the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) in 2002 that the plans for what was to become myVirtualGallery. began to take shape. I decided to build on the success of the FAMSF model to create a richer and more involving experience for our visitors." Although the conceptual and navigational design was done in-house, the actual programming work was done by Squiz.net.

While there is a natural link with formal education, myVirtualGallery. is designed for anyone who enjoys art and the dialogue it can stimulate: from teachers, lecturers and students to the general public. Tristan Sharp, the Gallery's Coordinator of Education Programmes, is particularly excited by its potential: "By allowing students to manipulate, experiment and make their own connections, myVirtualGallery. creates the ideal environment for personal engagement to occur, an essential ingredient of learning," he said. "I can see all sorts of possibilities. I think it's a landmark achievement in the area of online museum services."

Source: Press Release from the AGNSW

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