The Noguchi Museum website offers little in the way of customization or personalization for the lay user aside from the nearly fully bilingual capabilities of the website. For those who feel more comfotable injesting information in Japanese as opposed to English, the homepage provides a link to the Japanese translation which leads you to a slightly different front page than the java script driven English language main site. In addition, within each of the subpages of www.noguchi.org one can choose to read the page content in Japanese as well. The Japanese language link on the far left of the screen which is below the continuously present sidebar with menus and dropdown menus leads you back to the initial Japanese language homepage and not to the same page translated. For example, if you are searching for the history and mission of the museum and would like to read the information in Japanese, you must click the Nihongo 日本語 button and then once redirected to the Japanese language main page re-click or re-navigate to the appropriate page you were seaking in Japanese.
The interesting aspect of the nearly billingual site is that not all the information contained in the English language site is conveyed in the Japanese. Most notably, the Education site provides information for school visits in the English version but only for Parent/child visits for children of different ages for the Japanese language site. Presumably this is due to the lack of demand for Japanese language school groups or a high demand of Japanese parents living within New York wanting to enjoy the environment of the Noguchi Museum with their children.
While customization is possible between English and Japanese, the only personalization capability on the Noguchi Museum website is found under the ambitious Catalogue Raisonne section of the site. This is found in the dropdown menu under Research on the side bar and requires a password and email address to login. This function of the website and project is seemingly marked for use by the Noguchi Museum by individuals such as scholars, researchers, librabrians, academics, dealers or collectors. The login page asked me for my field of research but the information found within is faschinating and extremely comprehensive. What an amazing tool! A nearly fully digitized Catalogue Raisonne of one of the 20th century's greatest artistic minds!
Within the Catalogue Raisonne, one can create bookmarks (although this was tricky until I found the brief but helpful hints for use which are included below in this section). In particular it is difficult to figure out which level of specificity was considered detailed enough to include as a bookmark in my personal account. Finally, upon searching for a specific object (the same Globular as mentioned before) the object page was produced with the handy "Bookmark +" button located in the top right hand of the page. I had found a detailed page as noted in the hints for use.
- How do I bookmark items?
- You can bookmark items while you are browsing the website. You'll find Bookmark Item links on detail pages throughout the site.
- Can I organize my bookmarks within multiple folders?
- Yes. Click the Make a new bookmarks folder link above to create a new folder.
- How do I change between folders?
- Click on the name of the folder you want to work with in theYOUR FOLDERS list.
- How can I change the name of my bookmarks folder?
- Click the EDIT link in theCURRENT FOLDER area above. A form will slide open allowing you to change the name of the folder you are currently working with."
- Quoted from Noguchi Museum website/catalogue raisonne - Help tips
While the information provided in the Catalogue raissone is fascinating and compelling, I wonder just how many people access it who are not professionals in the field of Japanese or 20th century art history. It appears this information could really enhance the visitors' experience to the museum and the works shown if it were more readily available and accesible to more individual users.
The Noguchi Museum's online timeline function is a clever albeit perphaps not ideally realized idea for the website to provide a scrollable online timeline of seminal events in the history of the museum. The timeline while it provides interesting content does little to provide exact dates, has very little visual impact and is touchy in its use.While this scrolling timeline could be a fascniating and really interactive area of the museum's website the lack of any visual wow factor is exceedingly apparent. In addition, the dates are difficult to discern. While a relative idea of when an event occured based upon its relationship to the top or bottom margin of the timeline is perhaps discernable (in fact I have no evidence that this is in fact the proper way to interpret events in the timeline and am simply assuming) the year is always tricky to figure out. To the right are four different screen shots of the timeline showing not only the lack of visually attractive materials such as images and the relative lack of information as well. What user wants to sit and scroll through something where there are lots of blank swaths of time?
The Noguchi Museum website and the resources accessible through using the Noguchi Museum website as a portal are really broad in scope and depth. However, I wonder how successful each individual area discussed above really are.
For example, the online timeline while a clever and innovative means to track the history of the museum seems really bare of content. As mentioned earlier - how long can an individual user stay interested in a clunky interface that is essentially scrolling through lots of time with no entries? Hopefully the future of the timeline will entail many more visual entries and more entries in general - this would make at least the current era and future of the museum a more visually attractive epoch to play around on the timeline with.
Also in regards to the online Catalogue raisonne - I applaud and find the entire endeavor gratifying and really challenging but hope for the future the information will be made public. I also wonder about the plans for any XML or linked data tagging that might be employed in the Catalogue. With the broad span of Noguchi's career and the myriad other artists' careers his touched or bumped against and not only in the sculptural arts but theater, dance, music and the like - having linked data about his work and life would be a phenomenal resource for future researchers, students and connoisseurs.
Noguchi Museum website - English
Noguchi Museum website - Japanese
Help section Noguchi Catalogue Raisonne
History section Noguchi Museum website Scroll down to the bottom of the screen to access the timeline.