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The IMA’s Most-Accessed Works of Art

This week, Modern Art Notes started a series on the ten most-accessed works of art across a handful of museums’ websites. Featured museums included SFMOMA, MOMA, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Inspired, we started digging through Google analytics to uncover the IMA’s most-accessed works of art. The wonderful thing about analytics is the ability to compare short and long term date ranges which provides an opportunity to look for trending. With these interests in mind, we went back to 2007 (when analytics tracking was implemented) and compared the top ten most-accessed works for each year since then.

One interesting thing we found is that the top ten lists (based on unique pageviews) for 2007, 2008, and 2009 are all very similar. While there was some movement within the lists as far as #1, #2, etc., the pieces that made the cut for these three years were all the same (with the exception of 1-2 variations each year). A noticeable shift happened in 2010 when different works started popping up on the list.

As it just so happens, we introduced a new website in early 2010 and one of the changes we made involved the collection section. We improved the search capabilities with the intent of allowing someone to find something specific with ease, while also creating an interface to support casual browsing. A month later, we also introduced a new tagging feature that made the collections search more interactive. Tagging features in general have changed the way people look for information as users can search based on input or classifications from other users -  another possible reason for the shift in the top ten.

Even without these changes to the website, I would expect to see a change of sorts as technology improves and computer usage behavior changes. Online search habits have transformed (and will continue to do so) as people become more accustomed to search mechanisms and better in tune with the results a specific query will trigger. This is naturally going to change the results that are returned, thereby influencing the popularity of certain pages.

Over the past few years we’ve also become more active on social media sites, which may account for some of the changes seen pre and post 2010. Miss Lemon Drop (below) is just one example of this:

Caption: Mel Ramos, "Miss Lemon Drop," 1964.

We tweeted about this piece back in February, (in response to MAN’s Swimsuit Issue), and it made its top 10 debut for the first time as #6 for 2011. Granted, our 2011 list only includes the past two months of data, but I think this does speak to the influence of social media and the way it allows us to share our collection with wider audiences. Search engines have also added social networks to their results pages, fueling the popularity of those pieces we feature on places like Twitter or Facebook. This, in turn, gives museums an opportunity to call attention to works that may not otherwise be seen amidst the collection blockbusters that are regularly searched for on a site.

Speaking of blockbusters – even with changes in search habits, social media, and our website, we did see two pieces that made the top ten lists in all five years:

Tiffany Louis Comfort, "Angel of the Resurrection," 1904.

Do-Ho Suh, "Floor," 1997-2000.

Angel of Resurrection and Floor are clearly two popular pieces on our website peaking in popularity in 2009 at #1 and #4, respectively. Other works that made the list multiple times throughout the years include:

Rembrandt van Rijn, "Self-Portrait," 1629.

Alfred Thompson Bricher, "Morning at Grand Manan", 1878.

John Currin, "Blond Angel," 2001.

Winslow Homer, "The Boat Builders," 1873.

Below you can see a bit of the data we have gathered from this exercise. Starting with 2011, each graph lists the rank, title of the piece, and its change in rank from the previous year. From this you can see that Robert Indiana’s LOVE (1966) moved up one position from 2010 to 2011, or that Georgia O’Keefe’s Jimson Weed was not on the list in 2009, but made it to the top ten in 2010.

2011 Most Accessed (year-to-date)

Rank Title
1 Tim Hawkinson, Möbius Ship, 2006.
2 Robert Indiana, LOVE, 1966.
3 Robert Indiana, LOVE, 1970.
4 Janet Scudder, Nude Child (Seaweed), 1914.
5 Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Fifth Plague of Egypt, 1800.
6 Mel Ramos, Miss Lemon Drop, 1964.
7 Louis Comfort Tiffany, Angel of the Resurrection, 1904.
8 Georgia O’Keefe, Jimson Weed, 1936.
9 Jan the younger Brueghel, The Sense of Taste, 1618.
10 Do-Ho Suh, Floor, 1997-2000.

2010 Most Accessed

Rank Title
1 Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Fifth Plague of Egypt, 1800.
2 Robert Indiana, LOVE, 1970.
3 Robert Indiana, LOVE, 1966.
4 Ingrid Calame, From #258 Drawing (Tracing from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the L.A. River, 2007.
5 Georgia O’Keefe, Jimson Weed, 1936.
6 Louis Comfort Tiffany, Angel of the Resurrection, 1904.
7 James Turrell, Acton, 1976.
8 Do-Ho Suh, Floor, 1997-2000.
9 Vincent Van Gogh, Landscape at Saint-Rémy (Enclosed Field with Peasant), 1889.
10 Kara Walker, They Waz Nice While Folks While They Lasted (Sez One Gal to Another), 2001.

2009 Most Accessed

Rank Title
1 Louis Comfort Tiffany, Angel of the Resurrection, 1904.
2 Kara Walker, They Waz Nice While Folks While They Lasted (Sez One Gal to Another), 2001.
3 Barnaba da Modena, Crucifixion, 1375.
4 Do-Ho Suh, Floor, 1997-2000.
5 Alfred Thompson Bricher, Morning at Grand Manan, 1878.
6 Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait, 1629.
7 Robert Indiana, LOVE, 1966.
8 Master of San Baudelio de Berlanga, Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, 1125.
9 Winslow Homer, The Boat Builders, 1873.
10 John Currin, Blond Angel, 2001.

2008 Most Accessed

Rank Title
1 John Currin, Blond Angel, 2001.
2 Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait, 1629.
3 Barnaba da Modena, Crucifixion, 1375.
4 Louis Comfort Tiffany, Angel of the Resurrection, 1904.
5 Kara Walker, They Waz Nice While Folks While They Lasted (Sez One Gal to Another), 2001.
6 Master of San Baudelio de Berlanga, Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, 1125.
7 Alfred Thompson Bricher, Morning at Grand Manan, 1878.
8 Do-Ho Suh, Floor, 1997-2000.
9 Winslow Homer, The Boat Builders, 1873.
10 Willem Kalf, Still Life with a Chinese Porcelain Jar, 1669.

2007 Most Accessed

Rank Title
1 Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait, 1629.
2 Master of San Baudelio de Berlanga, Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, 1125.
3 Louis Comfort Tiffany, Angel of the Resurrection, 1904.
4 Winslow Homer, The Boat Builders, 1873.
5 El Greco, St. Matthew, 1610-1614.
6 Robert Indiana, LOVE, 1966.
7 Alfred Thompson Bricher, Morning at Grand Manan, 1878.
8 John Currin, Blond Angel, 2001.
9 Jean Dubuffet, Courre Merlan (Whiting Chase), 1964.
10 Do-Ho Suh, Floor, 1997-2000.

Filed under: Around the Web, The Collection

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