March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Demonstrations: Description

Texas Bird's-Eye Views

Tim Gambell, Amon Carter Museum, USA
John Robinson, Jr., Amon Carter Museum, USA

Texas Bird's-Eye Views is a Web site dedicated to the study and appreciation of the Texas city views in the Amon Carter Museum's collection, along with a number of additional Texas views from private lenders and outside institutions.

Bird's-eye views, many of which are more than three feet wide, appear as something between a panoramic view and a map, as though they were drawn by the artist while he was suspended in a hot-air balloon. In fact, they were drawn by hand using, most often, two-point perspective to produce a three-dimensional rendering. The city views are surprisingly accurate (even to the point of documenting the presence of a tree in the middle of Gonzales Street in Cuero) and represent a much neglected source for understanding the history of Texas.

Created by the Carter's Publications Department, the site uses a custom-designed Zoomify interface to make navigation of the views easier and more intuitive. This site showcases fifty-nine Texas views, documenting forty-four different cities. Some of the cities are represented by a series of images executed over a number of years; presented together, these multiple views open a fascinating window onto the early development of these cities. The zoom-in capability of the site enables Web visitors to enjoy fascinating details in the views, as though the objects were being seen through a powerful magnifying glass. Each view is accompanied by a brief essay, pertinent links, and supporting illustrations. Those cities for which there are multiple views receive more in-depth information and interpretation.

The Amon Carter Museum's Texas Bird's-Eye Views site presents the fine city views in its collection with unparalleled rapid access to the highest-resolution details available with today's technology. Never before have these fascinating works of art been so effectively accessible, and it is the museum's hope that the study of Texas history will be enhanced accordingly.

Demonstration: Demonstrations [Close-Up]

Keywords: zooming, database, design, interface, maps, education