The Prado “exhibits” its Rubens on the Web

The Museo del Prado today published the first multi-interactive, online video relating to art. Entitled “Rubens 360º”, this initiative, which is a pioneering one in the context of museum websites, is another landmark within the Prado’s mission to make its collections and exhibitions accessible beyond the Museum’s physical space, while also expanding and increasing its educational and informational activities. This new initiative has been made possible through the support of Telefónica, Benefactor Sponsor of the Visitor Attention programme and has been created by the Spanish company that was also responsible for the development and treatment of the gigapixel images in the project entitled “Masterpieces from the Museo del Prado on Google Earth”. It makes use of the potential for interactivity and accessibility inherent within a wide range of information to present a comprehensive visual and intellectual summary of the exhibition that the Museum is currently devoting to its own Rubens collection (open until 23 January). The entirely new element in this presentation consists in the way that it offers the option to follow all the works on show in the exhibition by clicking on each one to access a high-resolution, navigable image that is presented in conjunction with related text, audio and video material (i.e. videos within a video).

Wednesday 22 December 2010

The publication of this interactive, online video, the first of its kind for use in the promotion of cultural material, represents a unique acknowledgement of the status of Rubens, one of the greatest artists represented in the Prado’s collection, as well as of the ever-growing number of people interested in the content and channels that the Prado has made available online over the past few years. This endeavour has been made possible due to the permanent support of Telefónica as sponsor of the Museum’s online projects within its Visitor Attention programme. Videos now have additional information layers and thus offer an option that might be termed “hypervideo”, in reference to the computer term “hypertext”, the name given to a text that leads to another, related text on a screen.

With the publication of this new feature on its web and following the enthusiastic reception that the Museum’s traditional online videos of its temporary exhibitions - regularly produced since 2008 - have received, the Prado has now taken a step forward by enabling users to access more detailed information in a simple, user-friendly manner. This new project is based on the exclusive, online, video interactivity technology developed by the Spanish firm Madpixel, which also developed the technological and methodological support used for the digitalisation and visualisation of the gigapixel images for “Masterpieces from the Museo del Prado on Google Earth”. This new mode of multi-media presentation transcended the limitations of a traditional video and enabled the user to interact within the audiovisual content itself, with the option to pause on numerous “hotspots”, which in this case will allow the user to access all the works by Rubens housed in the Prado. Users will thus have access to additional content associated with the more than 90 specific hotspots, both in the form of videos in which Alejandro Vergara, curator of the exhibition and Chief Curator of Flemish and Northern School Painting at the Prado, offers a detailed explanation of the works, and in the form of high-resolution, full-screen images and an explanatory entry on each work. Direct access to the video, available only the spanish version.

Additional content formats

The content accessed by clicking on the different elements in an interactive video of this type is varied in nature. In this case, the additional content has been carefully selected with the aim of helping users to achieve an experience which is as similar as possible to actually seeing the exhibition at first hand. While of course not equivalent to the unique experience of direct contemplation of the works, the video offers the compensation of enabling users to obtain in-depth information on all of them through navigation of the images and access to additional explanatory content. To make this possible, the video features large scale, high quality reproductions of all the 90 works in the exhibition, shown full-screen and with the option to enlarge them. This feature enables users to appreciate tiny details not visible to the naked eye when looking at the paintings first-hand due to the physical conditions of being in a museum (the fact that visitors have to stand some way away from the works, and with a perspective determined by their location on a single, horizontal plane). In addition to full-screen visualisation, many of the reproductions are accompanied by an audio player that allows an audio-guide text to be heard while the work is explored by the user. In addition, all the reproductions have their own detailed, text entry that provides technical details on the works.

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