Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz : Mounting pictures
An elegant way of displaying images and letting viewers explore the detail.
The Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, a research institution specialising in the history of Italian art and architecture, has a sophisticated viewing system for displaying images in its online exhibitions and exhibitions archive.
Exhibition displays are mounted on their own mini-site, which launches in a new browser window. Picking a section of the exhibition from a left-hand menu opens a page of text and ‘thumbnail’ (miniature) photographs, each with a simple descriptive caption. Clicking an image causes two things to happen simultaneously: the browser screen darkens, forming a translucent grey background for the image, which has enlarged to occupy the middle of the screen. Viewers can then either select ‘Close’ or ‘full-size’, the latter enlarging the image again to fill the screen except for a ‘Back to site’ link at the top which allows a return to the launch page.
The Kunsthistorisches Institut’s ‘business’ means it is as much interested in the detail of art and architecture as in their story. Its online exhibitions have found an elegant way of displaying images and of using the medium to enable viewers too to get up close to the detail.
Although the intermediate enlargement stage is a standard device for allowing images to be sampled from an initial set of thumbnails, the greying out of the screen enhances viewing by, in effect, mounting the image on a neutral backdrop. While this is particularly appropriate to the art world, the smooth transitions between stages of enlargement and thumbnails makes for the kind of easy usability that will encourage viewers to linger and explore any online gallery, be it community case studies or the corporate brands history.http://www.khi.fi.it
First published on 15 May, 2007