Redesigned Website, Smarthistory.org, Wins Prestigious International Award
AVICOM, the committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), responsible for audiovisual, image, sound and new technologies honored Smarthistory with their highest award (gold) in the web category at its annual competition on October 17, 2008 in Ottawa.
Smarthistory.org is a free multimedia art history web-book designed as a dynamic enhancement (or even substitute) for the traditional textbook. Its recent redesign was funded by a generous grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and allows users to browse more than one hundred audios and videos by time period, style, or artist, or by scrolling through an image browser created to look like an art history textbook.
Art historians, Beth Harris, Ph.D. and Steven Zucker, Ph.D. began Smarthistory in 2005 with a blog featuring free audio guides in the form of podcasts for use in The Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Soon after, they embedded the audio files in their online survey courses. The response from students was so positive that they decided to create a multi-media survey of art history web-book in 2006. People from over 100 countries have now visited Smarthistory.
In Smarthistory, Harris and Zucker have aimed for reliable content and a delivery model that is entertaining and occasionally even playful. The podcasts and screen-casts are spontaneous conversations about works of art where they are not afraid to disagree with each other or art history orthodoxy. The unpredictable nature of conversation is more compelling in this new media than a scripted monologue and makes transparent and accessible the process of developing interpretations about a work of art.
Harris and Zucker believe that Smarthistory is broadly applicable to the discipline of art history and is a first step toward understanding how art history can fit into the new collaborative culture created by web 2.0 technologies. They are looking for interested colleagues to expand the site's content and re-conceptualize the teaching of art history. Users can contribute photographs to the site via a Smarthistory Flickr group, and interested artists, art historians and critics should contact Harris and Zucker about contributing conversations.
For more information about the site please visit: www.smarthistory.org or contact the editors at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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