Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Digitizing religious art is important, but there's no impact like being there

By Holland Cotter
THE PAINTER’S HAND Piero di Cosimo’s “Madonna and Child With Two Musician Angels” (circa 1504-1507), on view at the National Gallery of Art, and, left, details from the work. When you view it in person, you sense the artist’s motion, from thin highlights to the way he smooshed paint with his fingers. Credit Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Galleria di Palazzo Cini, Venice Cameraphoto Arte, Venice/Art Resource, New York, right, and National Gallery of Art
Once upon a time, our big museums were the “quiet cars” of a fast-track American culture industry. That model is pretty much a generational memory now. Today, millions of people stream through major museums, filling the air with a restless rustle and buzz. Accessibility is the first and last word on the lips of museum directors. A question is what, exactly, in an age of expanded digital access, are museum audiences seeing? A recent scientific study published in the journal Acta Psychologica suggests that people enjoy art more and remember it longer when they see it “live” in museums, as opposed to online. [link]