Jenny Porter Tilley | Bloomington Herald-Times

Jenny Porter Tilley | Bloomington Herald-Times

Indiana University’s Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art didn’t enhance its online collections because of global pandemic. It’s been a goal for a long time.

Cassi Tucker, manager of museum technology, said many online archives for art museums weren’t designed with the casual visitor in mind. In the past, she said, it’s been more like a warehouse for people who know what they’re looking for to search.

“We’ve built in ways for people to browse the collection, not assuming people know what they’re looking for,” Tucker said, and the museum’s curators have worked to provide a more mindful experience to engage with.

Eventually, Tucker said, the goal is to have the entire Eskenazi Museum of Art collection available online.

As opposed to just highlights of the collection, or trying to hit the heavy-hitters and the well-known names, we’re trying to let people see the whole collection,” she said. “That’s a much bigger task than anything we’d ever taken on before.”

Tucker grew up in rural Nebraska, where the nearest art museum was hours away — she didn’t set foot in one until high school. Although much of the Eskenazi Museum’s audience is IU and Bloomington, she said, it’s crucial to find ways to include surrounding rural areas just a few miles away where people might not be able to come to the museum.

“We’re thinking about what that experience is going to be like for someone who can only ever access (an art museum) online, and making sure they can enjoy the collection,” she said.

It’s a new world out there right now, one with a focus on doing anything and everything from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And thanks to the newly designed online collection, faculty at IU and beyond — including K-12 schools — can use visual art in their lesson plans. As a teaching museum, they’ve already been thinking about ways to engage more students outside of the regular audience.

ONLINE

Find the museum collection online at artmuseum.indiana.edu/collections-online.

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