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Honolulu Academy of Arts – eMuseum

eMuseumThe Honolulu Academy of Arts is in the process of launching an ambitious project to put 50,000 pieces in their collection online in the newly minted eMuseum. I got an early preview of the system which coincides with the opening of Hokusai's Summit: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji this week. The eMuseum project started with the Academy's Japanese Woodblock Print collection with approximately 4500 prints already photographed and online. This process involved the historical information gathering, cataloging,  photographing and tagging of all pieces. The goal is to have 5000 piece placed into the eMuseum system each year. If you do the math, this will take about 10 years.  The project is funded by the Lange Foundation and the initial startup costs and data migration into the eMuseum database ran about $50,000. The database is searchable by keywords and date ranges. Besides the historical information, you can view an enlarged photo to see more detail in the piece. This is useful for art aficionados, students and researchers worldwide, looking for specific pieces without having to go through the physical collection. Launching the eMuseum at the same time with the Hokusai exhibit was more than a coincidence. Many of the woodblock prints that are on display are also in the database. At the exhibit everyone will probably spend most of their time gazing at Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanegawa and probably spend much less time viewing the other prints. hiroshige It is estimated that people will spend less then 5 seconds viewing each piece. This print by one of Hokusai's younger contemporaries, Utagawa Hiroshige caught my eye. But as you can see the photo of it without any flash is quite blurry. A search of the database using a combination of "Related People" (Hiroshige) and "Title" (Kai Province) produced this image. This search is not intuitive. The more information you know about the piece the easier it is to find it. In this case I remembered a portion of the title which yielded the image. Otherwise I would have to sort through hundreds of Hiroshige prints. With this resource you can spend much more time looking at the details of the print and reliving the exhibit. Something new in this show is the incorporation of the education section within the exhibit. Normally the education section is in a totally different wing of the Academy. During this show you can stamp your own woodblock print and write a exhibit inspired haiku. The show runs from Sept. 24, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010 but the eMuseum is up right now 24/7, forever.