The revamped site will allow curators to play catch-up. The museum also wants to enable Web visitors to curate shows and build virtual collections, to circulate favorite digital photos. Web visitors also might be able to fill in the blanks on works that have yet to be researched fully. Shifting the curatorial responsibility might seem risky, but in 2002, a visiting researcher helped the museum by discovering an unsigned Michelangelo in a box of drawings.
[John Maeda] calls tagging the creation of "an alternative body of thought." To explain how it would work for a design museum, he uses the example of a 1940s plywood Eames chair. A visitor might tag the image with "plywood" or "grandfather." From that point on, as others search under those words, the Eames design reappears, expanding public awareness. The Media Lab at MIT has an experimental online art exchange (openstudio.media.mit.edu/tags) where tagging can be activated by clicking on such words as cool, cosmic and smiley.
As bastions of scholarship, museums are not normally at the cutting edge of technological trends. Six years ago, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum got out front with a truly avant-garde Web venture. New York architects Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture of Asymptote were commissioned to design a Guggenheim Virtual Museum. They responded with a mesmerizing three-dimensional structure in cyberspace that was loosely based on the New York museum's spiraling Frank Lloyd Wright building. The project was intended for cyber art, but it was not pursued beyond a prototype. The museum launched a standard site in 2001.
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