A Sample of Virtual Museums
Roland, Craig, School Arts
When the World Wide Web burst on the scene in the early 1990s, Nicolas Pioch quickly recognized its potential to transform the way art is experienced and distributed. Believing that "more artistic stuff was needed on the Internet," Pioch launched the WebMuseum (www.ibiblio.org/ win) in 1994--one of the first virtual museums on the Web dedicated to displaying historical works of art. Today, over a decade later, the WebMuseum is arguably still the most popular virtual art museum online, with some 200,000 visitors logging into the site every week.
Sharing Valuable Images
Virtual art museums tend to fall into two broad categories: those that are extensions of brick-and-mortar institutions, such as the Metropolitan Museum Web site (www.metmuseunl.org), and those that exist only online, such as the Virtual Diego Rivera Web Museum (www.diegorivera.com), Greenmuseum.org (www.greenmuseum.org), and the Virtual Museum of Japanese Arts (web-japan.org/museum). Some virtual art museums like the State Hermitage Museum (www. hermitagemuseum.org) function with corporate support, whereas others like the American Museum of Photography (www.photography-museum.com) are the work of individuals with a special interest or expertise in art. One goal that all virtual art museums have in common is collecting, preserving, and sharing objects of aesthetic, cultural, or historical value with a viewing public dispersed around the world.
Effective use of these digital resources to support student learning depends on a good research question or task that challenges students to apply what they find online in meaningful ways. Internet-based assignments should encourage students to explore, gather information, think critically, and construct their own understandings of the curriculum topic at hand.
Students as Critics
For example, the J. Paul Getty Museum Web site (www.getty. edu) offers a wealth of art images, thematic exhibitions, video clips, and accompanying text. Depending on your students' grade level, you might ask them to choose works of art from two different time periods that appear on the site to write a comparative analysis. Have students share their comparisons and collectively discuss the larger question of "How has art changed over time? …