In 2012 we embarked on a sustained internal development effort to redesign the NGA public website from the ground up. An important objective of the redesigned site was to make high-resolution art images available for as much of the Gallery’s collection as possible and to make ultra-high-resolution images available for the highlights of the collection. Although IIPImage seemed to us a natural choice, we nonetheless conducted a fresh study in spring 2012 of the available zoom servers and clients, which only reinforced our prior conclusion that IIPImage is the best image zoom package for viewing art objects.
Important requirements for the zoom server on the redesigned public website include:
- Must provide a fast and efficient server-side engine using open standard file formats
- Must be able to operate from as few source images as possible (ideally a single zoom file) rather than requiring a multitude of pre-generated zoom tiles for each image
- Should retain and reproduce accurate color information from source imagery to the web browser on the client side
- Preferably based on open source software and released under open source license in case it needs to be modified to suit our purposes
- For future endeavors, the tool should provide auxiliary services to generate on-the-fly renditions of zoom images of arbitrary size and location
The IIPImage solution was able to meet most of these requirements. In April 2013 when the redesigned www.nga.gov website launched, it included dozens of ultra-high-resolution images for collection highlights and thousands of high resolution images of paintings. Since launch the NGA’s rapid capture project added tens of thousands of additional high-resolution digital photographs of works on paper, including (by September 2014) the full set of images of watercolors from the Gallery’s Index of American Design. Rapid Capture is an ongoing endeavor that seeks to produce high-resolution digital imagery for nearly all works on paper within the Gallery’s collections.
A year later, in April 2014, a major set of enhancements to www.nga.gov was released. National Gallery of Art Online Editions debuted its first edition, Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century, as part of the Getty Foundation’s Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI). The site includes scholarly research on more than 120 paintings and dozens of artists as well as X-ray, infrared, and ultraviolet band art images, some of which have led to new insights and fascinating discoveries.
The HTML5 IIPMooviewer client was customized to allow registered technical images to be faded in and out with a transparency control while overlaid on top of the visible light image. In addition, when registered technical images are selected, the zoom and pan settings can be locked so that one set of controls is used to navigate two images.