Visual artwork sizes in a virtual gallery

Since our humble beginnings, it’s been possible to enter the dimensions for an artwork (height and width). However, we’ve never done much with that information other than list it on the artwork page. This past weekend, I added a feature I’ve had in mind for a long time – showing the artwork size in a visual way. Now on the Detail page for any artwork with a height and width, there is a tab called “Artwork size” (artworks without both dimensions do not show this tab). If you click that tab you’ll see the artwork in a virtual gallery:

Of course to get a sense of scale, you need a reference. So, we’ve added some silhouettes of people to the scene (from the wonderful all-silhouettes.com). The man in the scene above is scaled at six feet tall.

We have a big range of artwork sizes in The Athenaeum, from enormous Renaissance frescoes to tiny drawings. So we the Detail page “smart” enough to pick the right scale for the artwork in question. Here’s what it looks like for a very small artwork:

And here’s a very large artwork which you should recognise:

Of course, this all depends on having the correct dimensions entered into the database. At the time of writing, we have 62,067 artworks with dimensions entered, and 40,742 without. Having that information for 60% of the art in such a big database is better than I would have guessed.

We still have a few tweaks to make (getting scale indicators onto all of the background images), but I’m very happy with the results. To my knowledge, no other web site does this. I can imagine other ways to use it as well – maybe when comparing two artworks (an upcoming feature), or showing several artworks together when we know they are in the same room of a museum.

Let us know your thoughts, and feel free to add artwork dimensions when you see they are missing!