Virtual Vision

Navigating the cyber-sea of museums and galleries

Artist Leyden Rodriguez achieves a really nice balance between function and aesthetics with the Leonard Tachmes Gallery site (leonardtachmesgallery.com). Upon entering the site you're offered a choice of artists, current, upcoming, et cetera. By choosing the artists, you're sent to a clear, drop-down menu that lists the gallery's roster. Several visual images are displayed portraying a selection of each artist's works; the size and clarity of the photos are good. You're also given the option of visiting the artist's own site, reading his or her resumé, and a back button (it's an accepted principle in interface design that users should be able to easily return to the home page and other major navigation points in the site). All the information was current and easy to access. The gallery's history page lists works from 2001, and its program runs through 2006.

The Website for Ingalls and Associates (ingallsassociates.com) is elegant and practical. At the top, in capital letters and written without any spaces as if one long word, is a nicely designed menu allowing users to access exhibitions, artists, press articles, and more. The artists' menu is user-friendly, displaying a selection of works for each artist together with a summary of his or her career. There's also a complete history of the gallery's shows. The press section consists of published articles and press releases detailing important gallery events, a nice touch.

Apparently the Dorsch Gallery site is under construction. I can only hope that this time it will be designed and maintained a little better than the previous one. The design of the Ambrosino Gallery site (ambrosinogallery.com) is simple. As you enter, under the gallery logo, is a photo of the current exhibit. Pick from three options: artists, exhibitions, or contact. Should you choose to go to the artists' area, you'll get another menu showcasing their works, press articles, and bios. Some have artist statements. I could see all the works, but in most cases the press and/or the bio information wasn't listed. Also the site doesn't list a history of the gallery's shows. I didn't see the works on display inside this gallery being fully represented on the site.

MAM's homepage packs a punch
MAM's homepage packs a punch
Candy colors entice users to surf the MoCA site
Candy colors entice users to surf the MoCA site

The homepage of the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery site (bernicesteinbaumgallery.com) features an image of the gallery building. Artists names are shown in light blue type, which contrasts with the solid gray color throughout the remainder of the site. There are four little circles inviting users to check out the gallery, exhibitions, current show, and contact information. Click any of these and a new page appears. The names of the gallery's artists reappear in a left-hand column, but in most options they get cut off unless you scroll down, a design problem that could be avoided by having an additional main option for artists. There's no press or bio for artists. Bernice Steinbaum is known for her vision of labor-intensive quality and diversity, yet her Website fails to fully communicate this.

Another Website that should consider improving the way it represents its artists is the Fredric Snitzer Gallery (snitzer.com). The homepage is a large white screen that contains at the lower left a rectangle divided into three parts: forthcoming, current, and artists. Drag your cursor to the right and another menu option emerges: past. The vertical list of artists is long (each with name and an image) and occupies too much space. (This is a Website that loves white space.) When you click the artist's image you're sent to a page listing a resumé, detailing past exhibits, press articles, et cetera (again, these pages looks empty). I'd use a different color scheme and modify the font and point size of current and future exhibitions. Where do people get the idea that small type is fashionable? Snitzer has an exciting roster of artists with an impressive program. The site should be remodeled to reflect this.

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