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Smithsonian’s Database of Outdoor Sculpture (and more…)

Nathaniel HawthorneThis is a photograph I took of a sculpture of Nathaniel Hawthorne in Salem. When I added it to Flickr, I wanted to credit the sculptor, but I didn’t know his name. I decided to try looking this up in SIRIS, a database that I had heard about but had never tried, and I was really impressed with what I found.

Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center — The Smithsonian provides access to much more than information about its own collections. The Inventory of American Sculpture provides authoritative information on nearly 32,000 outdoor sculptures collected from a nationwide survey known as Save Outdoor Sculpture. The information and indexing for each work is extensive and impressive.

For example, see the record for the sculpture shown here: Nathanial Hawthorne. The information includes not only the name of the sculptor, but the names of the architect, founder and fabricator, a complete description and references. The indexing is extensive, and you can click on the links in the record to find other works by the sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt, other works administered by the City of Salem’s Public Works Department, or even other works featuring novelists, canes or hats!

These databases should be really useful to people working on Flickr, Wikipedia, blogs and other personal and collaborative projects. They are also useful to librarians for reference and also for local history projects.

Art Babble

Play Art Loud! ArtBabble.orgArt Babble is one of the most interesting, informative and stylish art websites I’ve ever seen and it’s no surprise that it won the MW2010 Best Overall Museum Web Site award at the Museums and the Web Conference in April.

ArtBabble is a project developed by the Indianapolis Museum of Art to share and showcase their high-quality videos about art and artists. They have since been joined by an impressive list of museum partners that includes the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the New York Public Library (and several others.)

The videos are beautifully presented, with all the usual features of a video site — commenting, sharing, downloading and embedding. Each video is enhanced with notes providing images and information, synchronized to specific points in the video. These are shown to the right of the video, and it’s easy to explore or ignore these while watching the video.

There’s quite a variety of videos here both in terms of style and subject matter. Two of my favorites are an interview with Beverly-born artist Wil Barnet from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and a lecture on Hello Kitty by New York Times business reporter Ken Belson, who wrote the book “Hello Kitty; The Remarkable Story of Sanrio and the Billion Dollar Feline Phenomenon.” I’ve embedded those videos below, but you’re really better off following the link and watching it on the Art Babble site to get the full effect.

This site is a great resources for students, teachers, and anyone with an interest in art.

Meet Wil Barnet

Meet Wil Barnet

Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty — Hello Kitty: The Global Brand with Nine Lives by Ken Belson