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What’s in a Web Site: Collections Search

Now that the new IMA web site is live, we want to take time to introduce you to some new features over the next few weeks.  Rob gave a behind the scenes look at many of these features last week, but we’ll be going into more detail.

First up, collections search.

Search is available on every page on the site.

We created rich menus for the navigation of the website.  Under the “Art” menu item you’ll find we’ve added a collections search box.  This makes the collections available from every single page on the website.

Overview of the collections search page.

Upon visiting the collections search page itself, you’ll be presented with a random selection of works of art that are currently on view in the galleries.

Hovering a result gives detailed information.

In the picture above, I did a search for “landscape“. Hovering the results presents you with some more information and options for each work. You can quickly see if the work is currently on view and how relevant it is to your search. You can also click the magnifying glass to zoom the image or click on several other places to visit the works web page.

We're talking serious zoom.

Results can be filtered by creator.

We can see from search logs that most people are actually searching by artist names. In response to this we have added the ability to filter your search results by creator. In the screenshot above I have filtered my “landscape” search to only show works by John Ottis Adams.

User supplied tags make works easier to find.

Sometimes you might be looking for a work in a non-standard way. User-supplied tags can make it easier to find works that may not have the words in the tombstone that you are looking for. Case in point: a recent Super Bowl bet in which we now have to lend a specific work to the New Orleans Museum of Art.

You can select custom creation date ranges.

Finally we wanted to make it easy to search works by their creation and accession dates. We added some simple sliders to the advanced section of the form that let you do exactly this. In the example above I am viewing works from our Asian department that were created during the Edo period. You can ask some reason specific questions using the search. In the example below I am looking for paintings acquired since the beginning of 2009.

You can also select custom accession date ranges.

We always love feedback, good or bad. Let us know what works and what doesn’t.

Filed under: Technology

6 Responses to “What’s in a Web Site: Collections Search”

  • avatar
    Michael Jenkins Says:

    I dig the date slider. I hope that a few months from now, after you have use stats, you will post on what worked and didn’t work with the collections search design.

    Keep up the good work!

  • avatar

    Wow, you’ve already fixed the things I was going to tell you about (tag searches used to be sticky with no way to turn them off, materials didn’t seem to be indexed). Two things I can think of offhand:

    - it seems like you’ve got the AJAX back button implementation half-working. It changes the URL hash correctly, but it seems like the timer that’s supposed to be watching for that change and reloading the page isn’t firing? I’m on the latest unstable Chrome on Linux, if maybe it’s just me?
    - the fields driving the autocomplete for Materials and Object Type are a bit raw. Two quick examples: type “cer” into Materials, and there’s a misspelled “cermaic” (that then returns nothing?), and then type “photo” into either field. The Materials field is full of variations on that word, and even the Object Type has both “photograph” and “photographs” (although those seem to stem to the same actual result set). We had a big struggle with this same problem and ended up pretty aggressively reducing terms to a common theme, so people could actually find all the photographs regardless of initial classification by the registrars. Not sure if something like that is practical?

    Ooh, finally, seems like Object Type isn’t in the index. I was going to try a search for “photograph” in the keyword field to see if that actually gave me the results for every photograph, but it doesn’t pick up the ones in Object Type. To see it more easily, pick “photoaquatint” from Object Type, then add this same word as a keyword – drops to 0 results.

    These are nitpicky little things, though, from a guy who just spent way too long thinking about collection search for his MW paper. Overall, I stand by my initial tweet: phenomenal, and I’m stealing everything. :) The addition of filters by Artist and Tag is a great one.

    (And I second Michael’s wish for more post-launch reporting! Are people using the Materials field or still typing “painting” into the keyword field?)

  • avatar
    Charlie Says:

    Thanks for the feedback guys. We absolutely have a lot of data cleanup to do, but some of this would have never been discovered if we simply printed this information on the record pages. Tools like this are proving to help us internally as much as the web site visitor.

  • avatar
    Matt Says:

    I think one of the coolest features is that you can easily grab a url for your search too. Say you wanted to share a search of skulls with “has image” checked on.

    http://www.imamuseum.org/art/collections/search#search=skull&has_image=1&limit=20

  • avatar
    Emily Says:

    I think you should be able to search by accession number in addition to name, artist, etc.

  • avatar

    Great looking site will have hours of fun looking through it thanks …

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