Art Book Bonanza
October 22, 2012 7:39 AM   Subscribe

A few days ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art published online 368 full text titles also downloadable as pdfs. They range from major exhibition catalogues such as the 1983 Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomical Drawings from the Royal Library or the 1992 Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain, exhaustive lists of holdings (European Post-Medieval Tapestries and Related Hangings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Volumes I and II), art books like Degas: The Artist's Mind or The Great Wave: The Influence of Japanese Woodcuts on French Prints, facsimile editions such as The Cloisters Apocalypse: An Early Fourteenth-Century Manuscript, social history titles covering subjects such as fashion or dance, technical manuals for those wanting to know how The Care and Handling of Art Objects works and much, much more.
posted by Marauding Ennui (19 comments total) 143 users marked this as a favorite
posted by The Whelk at 7:40 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Awesome. What I come to Metafilter for.
posted by immlass at 7:56 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

We got some big and juicy FFPs this morning. Must...unplug...ethernet...
posted by Beardman at 8:01 AM on October 22, 2012

Also, The Cloisters Cross - a whole book about one of my favorite pieces in the Cloisters extension to the Met. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention.
posted by kokaku at 8:26 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

They're also in the processing of digitizing and making available much more of their back catalog; I believe the end goal is to have much of their publications dating to the start of the museum online.


(Okay it is my favorite so much that I actually own it, and I don't regret it at all. It is full of wonderful things, and shows so much more of Afghanistan's artistic past than most people are aware of. Mainly: WONDERFUL THINGS.)
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:29 AM on October 22, 2012

Also, Japanese and Chinese calligraphy.
posted by kokaku at 8:34 AM on October 22, 2012

Wow, thanks a ton!
posted by dhruva at 9:08 AM on October 22, 2012

Wonderful, thanks for posting this!
posted by carter at 9:15 AM on October 22, 2012

I just looked through all 31 pages of books, and downloaded a dozen or so. This is an amazing resource. It seems like mostly older publications at first, but dig through and there are lots of publications from the late 90s. Plenty of fashion and ceramics to be found. A little photography.

The PDFs are just images of the pages, so you can't highlight text and there is no interactive table of contents or anything like that. The images in the books are of reasonable high quality. You wouldn't be able to make large prints of them, but they look great on a screen.

My favourite thing I've come across so far is the caption "Lithographs to be swallowed for sickness, Germany, 19th century." It's in Prints and People: A Social History of Printed Pictures.
posted by oulipian at 9:20 AM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Wow! What an amazing resource. It's unfortunate how infrequent that such a treasure trove of information is placed into public access for free download. This is truly what the web is about; the last time that such an instrument of information exchange happened was the invention of the printing press.

This release moves information that was placed into a 15th century medium (print) into a 21st century medium (the web). In print, the reach of the text was relatively small. Now the reach is much larger.

That someone at the Met had the courage to make such a release for free is really commendable. I can imagine that there were discussions about spending the budget to scan the books, and arguments about releasing them for free. Look at the how the world is a better place today, though! I feel that I now have 368 more books in my library that I didn't have yesterday, and so does everyone else. More institutions should follow their lead and do the same. Just one more reason the Met is my favorite museum in the world.
posted by Xoc at 10:04 AM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Many can you please provide more time in the day to read all this?
posted by incandissonance at 10:21 AM on October 22, 2012

this is amazing! Thank you!
posted by octomato at 10:49 AM on October 22, 2012

Awesome, love it.
posted by Theta States at 11:11 AM on October 22, 2012

First in my queue: "Ancient Egyptian Representations of Turtles"!
posted by jrb223 at 11:28 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Gobsmacked. Thanks for the post - it looks like I'll have a lot of reading to catch up on.
posted by ooga_booga at 11:47 AM on October 22, 2012

Great post!
posted by ersatz at 12:00 PM on October 22, 2012

Holy shit. I picked the wrong week to go back to work.
posted by DigDoug at 12:46 PM on October 22, 2012

This is great. Thanks, Marauding Ennui.
posted by homunculus at 11:41 PM on October 22, 2012

Wow. First thing I'm doing, I'm downloading the catalogs for the three great Byzantine exhibits, the last two of which I spent a lot of time in (there was a MeFi meetup at one!): Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century; The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843–1261; and Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261–1557). I haunted the Strand for years hoping to come across a copy I could afford, with no luck. Now they're mine, all mine! Many thanks for the post, Marauding Ennui.
posted by languagehat at 6:11 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

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