Posted by Irwin (22.214.171.124) on March 31, 2011 at 04:46:47:
I received the following email from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston today in response to concerns I raised regarding their new online database. My original email follows the museum's response.
Thank you very much for your thoughtful and insightful e-mail concerning the museumís new website. We appreciate your taking the time to detail and outline your frustrations with the web, and are truly sorry you are experiencing these difficulties. Our department is particularly sorry that it is the search for Japanese prints with which you are having trouble; we have been pleased that it is knowledgeable collectors like yourself that have accessed the newly catalogued and photographed collection of Japanese prints.
The reason for the temporary change in functionality is because last November the whole MFA website was revamped and expanded, not just the search functions, and some functionality has been lost. However it is a priority of the museum to regain this functionality and there is ongoing work to correct the situation. We do expect that over time the tools and features of the searchable collection component of the web will be corrected and restored.
We hope you will continue to use the web, and let other collectors know that one of the museum's priorities is to correct this situation. If there are prints that you cannot access please feel free to e-mail me and the curatorial staff will try to assist you with your search.
Thank you again for contacting us with your concerns,
Curatorial Planning and Project Manager
Art of Asia, Oceania and Africa
I'd like to express my utter frustration in using your new online database. As a collector of Japanese woodblock prints, I have relied upon your previous database for reference for years. It was fast, contained many more images of prints than are currently displayed and information about the prints was clearly presented.
Frankly, your search mechanism and the information presented in the new
database is a mess. Search fields return no results (for example entering a valid accession number for a print brings no results, even when the print can be found by other search parameters) and not all results available in the database are returned. Particularly frustrating is the slow speed of search, sometimes taking minutes. Images of prints long out of copyright that were previously displayed are no longer displayed. Information that was previously clearly presented is now confusing. For example, why has the field for "publisher" been removed? Now the information is sometimes lumped in with the artist's name without differentiating between the two. Why has previously displayed information about the artist's signature and seal been removed?
The current state of the Museum's database has been a topic of conversation for some months now among collectors with a general consensus that the new online database is, to put it mildly, disappointing. I'm afraid in the Museum's search for revenue sources you've taken a valuable resource and made in almost useless.
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