Museums and the Web 1999

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Published: March 1999.


IPIX immersive photography in the Frick Collection virtual tour

Vivian Gill , The Frick Collection, USA
Bill Swersey , New York University

Session: Demonstrations 1

A visit to The Frick Collection evokes the splendor and tranquillity of a time gone by and at the same time testifies to how great art collections can still inspire viewers today. Housed in the New York mansion built by Henry Clay Frick, one of America's most successful steel and railroad tycoons, are masterpieces of Western painting, sculpture, and decorative art, displayed in a serene and intimate setting. Each of sixteen galleries offers a unique presentation of works of art arranged for the most part without regard to period or national origin, in the same spirit as Mr. Frick enjoyed the art he loved before he bequeathed it to the public.

In creating a virtual tour of the Frick Collection we were challenged to find a technology which would allow an online visitor to experience as closely as possible an actual visit to the Frick mansion.

We chose IPIX(TM) immersive photography for its unique ability to capture the intimacy and beauty of the Frick Collection while serving as a effective and enjoyable way to navigate through the museum and explore individual elements of the collection.

Unlike QTVR "cylindrical" panoramas, IPIX "spherical" panoramas allow a scene to be captured in its entirety: 360 degrees around as well as from floor to ceiling. The user navigates through each IPIX using their mouse or keyboard - adding a compelling interactive element to the experience.

This technology is particularly well-suited for museum tours; the Frick Collection is the first major museum in the world to use IPIX technology to open the museum to the public via the internet. Since the web site and virtual tour premiered in the Summer of 1998, it has been very well received by visitors from around the world.

We will demonstrate the Frick Collection virtual tour and discuss how the IPIX panoramas were conceived, produced and integrated into the tour, including how we designed the navigation and added hot spots inside each node with links to detailed information about artwork. We will discuss the various ways IPIX can be integrated into a web site and will answer technical questions.