Here are my tips for where to go to get a little taste of the actual process of curation rather than passively browsing through endless online museum archives:
Your Paintings Tagger – Now that all the UK’s publically held oil paintings have been put online there is much work to do tagging them, and you can get your curatorial fix by joining in! It’s very simple and I admit after ten goes at this I had to close my browser as I knew I would end up being there all day, especially as you get different coloured paintbrushes as you complete more and more and there’s even a league table of the most prolific taggers. Great fun, addictive and presumably extrememly useful too. http://tagger.thepcf.org.uk/
National Maritime Museum – I remember playing around with this some years ago, and while I was ill recently I found my way back here as you can create your own collections based on the museum’s online catalogue. I found the process of putting together my own collection helped me think more about what I wanted to look for and made me discover things I never would have discovered otherwise. I set out to make a ‘Norfolk’ collection and found some amazing pictures from the early 1900’s of the Norfolk coast that I just loved. My Collections – National Maritime Museum
Pinterest – Nowadays you don’t actually need a museum to have it’s own portal to put together your own exhibition, you can just pin it. There are so many distractions on the internet and surely this one fits perfectly with museums and their collections. You can trawl through all your favourite museums and make a board of your favourite artefacts from all over the world. It doesn’t help navigate the often hard to penetrate online catalogues, but it does give you something most museum websistes don’t – the ability to do more than just passively wade through collections and create your own instead. For instance, this hastily put together board on Chinese Cong artefacts. http://pinterest.com/traceygooch1/chinese-cong/
Whitney Museum of Art for Kids – I’m very jealous of all children that get to play with this, it has so many features that adult based museum websites should have – the ability to make your own collections, to comment on images, tag images, upload your own images, look at other people’s pages of collections and quizzes such as “Which work of art would you like to give to your friend on their birthday?”. Some of these features are on the adult version too so I’ll have to just satisfy myself with that for now until I can find a young person who wants to get involved. http://whitney.org/ForKids
Indiana Museum of Art – I like this website, it may not totally fulfill my quest for some curating funtime, but I love their tag tours, which are bite size collections under different themes (http://www.imamuseum.org/interact/tag-tours), they let you tag the objects in the collection yourself inviting you to think about the objects you’re looking at (something I often find surprisingly difficult) and have set up their own pinterest boards as well to encourage more interaction. This is definitely a website I’d go back to and I am sure they will come up with some other interesting ways of using the collection too. http://pinterest.com/imamuseum/miller-house-and-garden/
A little moan – considering one of a curator’s key roles is to make sense of a huge amount of data and objects and images I’d expect museums to be coming up with some more interesting ways to cope with the great data overload that is the internet. But many don’t even do the basics that all the most successful non-museum websites take for granted e.g. letting people know what’s most popular on their site; as a way into a dense jungle of images and artefacts this is surely a winner, not everyone has time to browse for hours to find a hidden gem and a little guidance on what’s popular wouldn’t hurt, please.