Andy Warhol, ‘Self-Portrait’ 1986
Andy Warhol
Self-Portrait 1986
© 2020 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS, London

Digitising major artworks

Insight has enabled Tate to complete the online displays of some of its strongest holdings, where it was previously only able to show selected examples. An example of this is Tate’s major collection of the extraordinary work of William Blake.

Online sketchbooks

One of the key developments has been the digital capture of the Turner Bequest – a collection of over 30,000 drawings and watercolours by JMW Turner representing the contents of the artist’s studio. The Bequest includes over 300 sketchbooks which are now available online, enabling users to view the works how they would appear in the physical books, as in this prime example, the Wilson sketchbook dating from the 1790s.

Special imaging treatments

An exciting element of Tate Insight is the special imaging treatments, which experiment with new ways of presenting some of our more challenging works. This pilots the use of a range of innovative technologies to tackle, for example, the representation of installations and sculptural works.

A browseable subject index

The subject index enables users to see different interpretations of the same subject, which in a collection as diverse as Tate’s often juxtaposes very varied works, that might never otherwise be seen together. For example, see how Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is represented in the collection.

The formal qualities category of the subject index allows you to group works which share similar visual qualities.

As well as traditional subject classifications in areas such as Nature, History and Places, you can also use the subject index to explore how artists have responded to social and political issues over the last 500 years, such as in this group of works relating to pollution.

The ‘Group and Movement’ area of the subject index categorises the collection by art historical schools and movements such as Pre-Raphaelite or Surrealism, as in this selection of works from the St Ives School.

Other digital advances

This multimedia exploration of Cornelia Parker’s Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, is designed to offer an experimental, interactive approach to the exploration of installation works online. The project was conceived and developed by Tessa Meijer, Insight Imaging Co-ordinator, as part of her MA course in Digital Art History at Birkbeck College.

Insight also moved beyond Tate’s main Collection to delve into its Archive, offering for the first time an online Archive Showcase and Journeys based around three fascinating pilot themes:

The text scanning initiative has enabled Tate to enrich the collection pages of the website with a further 6,300 texts, including nearly 500 artist biographies. Previously available only in book form, these Tate catalogue texts are now accessible to all online, from the work pages and artist lists.

Containing several hundred definitions, the Glossary is designed to help explain art terminology, including definitions of artist groups and art movements, techniques, media and other art terms that you will find in texts about Tate’s Collection.