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LACMA releases new online catalogue of Southeast Asian art
Screenshot. © Museum Associates/LACMA 2013.
LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced the publication of Southeast Asian Art (http://seasian.catalog.lacma.org), a new website featuring in-depth scholarship authored by professor and curator Dr. Robert Brown. The online publication focuses on 34 highlights from the museum’s extraordinary collection of Southeast Asian art (complemented by numerous comparative images) and includes extended essays on topics such as light symbolism, female deities, and the impact of Buddhism on Sri Lankan and Southeast Asian art. Southeast Asian Art is the first in a series of online scholarly catalogues designed to provide an in-depth, web-based reading experience previously available only in print publications, enhanced with unique rich media features such as videos, 360-degree image rotation for select objects, and an easy online citation tool.

The project is intended to share museum-generated scholarship with the broadest possible audience and enable both students and advanced researchers of Southeast Asian art to use newly developed online research tools. Senior Deputy Director Nancy Thomas noted, “The intention of this project is to create an online source that can be used internationally at no cost. Traditionally, museums have been reluctant to share copyrighted information and images online. We are pleased to be at the forefront of open access with this new approach to disseminating scholarship online.”

With academic audiences in mind, and unlike other museum websites, the content of the online publication will not change once published, allowing citations to remain stable. Instead, as knowledge about the collection evolves over time, the museum will issue future “editions” of the website under a unique URL.

The project was funded by the Getty Foundation as part of its Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI) involving nine major museums. IMA Lab at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, funded by the Getty Foundation and in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago, created the unique open-source, web-based OSCI Toolkit to support the ongoing publication of scholarly material, which LACMA then customized to support its publication goals. The open-source approach is the latest expression of LACMA’s commitment to creating and adapting software tools developed by and for the museum community. The reusable software tools developed by IMA Lab and certain modules created by LACMA will soon be available online for other institutions to use to create their own online publications. The tool kit includes a set of APIs that allow other developers to create custom web or mobile interfaces.

LACMA plans to use the tool kit developed in support of this initial publication to create future online scholarly catalogues that will be available for free via the museum’s online Reading Room (lacma.org/art/reading-room). Future online catalogues will include a site dedicated to the study of the Carter Collection of Dutch paintings, authored by Dr. Amy Walsh and Senior Paintings Conservator Joseph Fronek.





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