“Art and Technology: Electronic Resources from the Getty” by Bagaybagayan, Borland, Wongse-Sanit and Schaaf

  • ©Ria Bagaybagayan, Candace M. Borland, Naree Wongse-Sanit, and Anne-Marie Schaaf



    Art and Technology: Electronic Resources from the Getty

Program Title:

    Electronic Schoolhouse (Classroom)



    ArtsEdNet began in 1995 with 250 Web pages.Today the Web site includes over 2,000 pages. In this paper,The ArtsEdNet team details the developmental process that the site has undergone in becoming an expansive and extensive Web resource.

    Devoted to comprehensive arts education, ArtsEdNet offers a wide variety of curriculum resources including lesson plans and online images from ancient to contemporary times and representing cultures from around the world. ArtsEdNet also provides online professional development materials and an online community called ArtsEdNet Talk, an email discussion group with over 1,000 participants.

    At its inception, ArtsEdNet consisted of materials that originated as print resources adapted for the online environment. Gradually, the team developed curriculum resources exclusively for the Web, utilizing the interactive aspects of the Internet. The four-year research and development period for ArtsEdNet is not yet complete; the demands of our audience and of this medium are constantly changing and so must the site.

    Keeping in mind the audience that a Web site serves is crucial to its development. Over the years, we’ve devised guidelines for writing and presenting information on the Web in a manner that is useful to teachers.

    Exploring the Artworlds of Los Angeles: Worlds of Art

    This innovative Web curriculum resource provides lessons that tap Los Angeles’ many artists, museums, community art programs, and public art. Teachers can bring LA’s worlds of art into the classroom by combining use of the Internet with an interdisciplinary approach. Teachers outside LA can use these lessons to build connections between art learning and the art worlds of their own communities.

    Worlds of Art comprises several lesson units designed to work together. The core unit, Understanding Artworlds, consists of four lesson plans that help students broaden their understanding of art and culture. It also includes components on exploring LA art worlds on the Internet and understanding the importance of art in other cultures. All of the lessons included were developed to correlate with the California Frameworks for various subject areas addressed.

    The other lesson units, also known as multicultural units, allow students and teachers to delve more deeply into particular art worlds in Los Angeles. Three are now available: Mexican American Murals (November 1998), African American Artists (January
    1999), and Navajo Art (April 1999). Each unit centers on a group of artworks found in the Los Angeles area and provides online images accompanied by multiple core and supplemental lessons, as well as worksheets and other handouts. Students and teachers can explore these art worlds, learn more about the artworks and the themes they address, and try making art that reflects what they have learned about each particular art world.

    Worlds of Art is based on an approach to teaching and learning that is thematic and inquiry-based. It is part of ArtsEdNet (www.artsednet.getty.edu), the Web site of the Getty Education Institute. ArtsEdNet aims to provide K-12 teachers around the nation with quality curriculum materials based on art from ancient to contemporary times and from Western and non-Western cultures. It has been available on the Web since September 1995 and receives an average of 10,000 visitor sessions each week.

    Presenting and Managing Electronic Visual Resources: The Getty Experience

    The Getty Education Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum collaborated to produce online exhibitions utilizing the unique interactive qualities of the Internet.This collaboration focused on two of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s opening exhibitions,“Making Architecture:The Getty Center from Concept through Construction” and “Beyond Beauty: Antiquities as Evidence,” both of which have since closed in the galleries. Portions of these two exhibitions are still available in an online version on ArtsEdNet (www.artsednet.getty.edu), with added educational components.

    Through this collaboration, the Getty has used digital images to virtually recreate elements of a physical exhibition. “Looking at the Art of Ancient Greece and Rome” on ArtsEdNet uses artwork and information from the exhibition “Beyond Beauty.” The physical exhibition consisted mostly of three-dimensional sculptures. One concern was to attempt to translate these three-dimensional works onto a two-dimensional page. At the same time, because the main audience of teachers is often not able to utilize more advanced plug-ins such as ShockWave due to hardware limitations, we needed to find a simple way to accomplish this. We created “rotating” images by using an animated GIF that connects a quick sequence of several static images. For example, a statue of Aphrodite shows all perspectives (front, side, back, and other side) of the goddess in succession, giving the effect of movement around the statue. Despite the flat screen, viewers get a sense of the object’s three-dimensionality.

    “Trajan’s Rome: the Man, the City and the Empire” on ArtsEdNet also utilizes material from the exhibition “Beyond Beauty,” this time creating a unique and innovative “virtual tour” of the Forum of Trajan. Collaboration among the Getty Education Institute, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the University of California, Los Angeles, produced a virtual reality model of Trajan’s Forum based on available archaeological evidence. The video virtual reality tour of the Forum of Trajan played continuously in the physical exhibition and is now available online, along with QuickTime movies and VR stills accompanied by interviews with curators, professors, and archaeologists. To complement this technological resource, ArtsEdNet added an online curriculum unit called “Trajan’s Rome: The Man,The City, The Empire.” Six lesson plans explore life and culture during Trajan’s Rome.

    Within Art Information Rooms located adjacent to galleries with works of art, the J. Paul Getty Museum presents information about the museum’s collections in an interactive multimedia system called Art Access. Using an underlying database structure, the touch-screen system allows visitors to acquire more information on works of art and artists. Art Access is a resource for the gallery experience, not a CD-ROM history of Western art. Why would the Getty Museum supplement real objects with art on the screen? Because a database system can provide great depth of intricately layered content, well beyond the brief words on a wall label. Curators cannot be there in person for every visitor, but this virtual tour can serve as a guide at any time.

    The structure of Art Access is based on objects. Each object record contains multiple images, informative text with hyperlinks, and links to groups. Objects also link to their artists, who are indexed by specialty, nationality, and type. Artist records can contain portraits, life dates, text, audio, and video. A variety of indexes combine works of art from multiple departments in various ways: Time and Place; Subjects, which uses language to engage a layperson; Works of Art, an index by type of object that uses vocabulary for knowledgeable visitors; and Reference, an overall listing with a visual key. Additional elements enhance the object and artist content. Hyperlinks lead to definitions for glossary terms, and presentations offer additional information on topics within indexes. Viewers who seek more guidance can turn to introductory videos from the director, curatorial tours on video, and videos of manufacturing processes.

    All elements of Art Access – text, images, audio, video, and index categories are stored in a custom-made database and retrieved from servers when a user touches the screen. With quality as the first priority for onsite use, the museum has adopted various standards for its digital resources. Having made a significant investment in these resources, the museum chose a modular database, separating content from screen design and functionality, to permit multiple uses for this information. The museum’s new collection management system, AMICO (Art Museum Image Consortium), the Museum’s Web site, curricula on ArtsEdNet, and in-house slide presentations already use elements of Art Access content or may do so in the future.

    The production process for a complex, truly live, interactive system based on a database model differs significantly from the usual one-shot, finished publication such as a CD-ROM. Editors must pull together creation, management, storage, and delivery
    of high-quality modular content, while concurrently handling both the continual flow of new content and review and adjustment of existing content. Since the system is non-linear, editors must juggle the multiple, evolving digital resources – text, images, video, audio, and animation – and maintain the complex links among them in a continuing campaign of editorial and technical management.


    Anne Marie Schaaf
    J. Paul Getty Museum

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