Friday, March 4, 2005

NYPL Digital Gallery

From the New York Times:

Say you start your exploration with one of the two images that open the library's Digital Gallery, a detail from a color woodcut from Kitagawa Utamaro's ukiyo-e prints (pictures of the floating world) depicting the lives of ordinary Japanese women and courtesans. There are 35 images from that series, and you can magnify each one enough to see how the women are doing with their lipstick and mirrors. . . .

Want to know what cigarette cards are? Look and you'll learn that in the late 19th and early 20th century, these small picture cards were tucked into cigarette packets as a promotional device, the cigarette equivalent of bubblegum cards. Exactly 21,206 of them are online now. What? That's right. Cigarette cards now represent nearly one-tenth of the whole digital collection.

Maybe, rather than entering the New York Public Library's digital gallery through the ukiyo-e, you go by way of the Web site's other opening image, a 1935 photo of a grouchy-looking man emerging from a basement barbershop on the Bowery. On that path you will find 343 photographs from Berenice Abbott's great work from the 1930's, "Changing New York." You can flip through the pictures and read all about Abbott, her project and how it got to the public library.

That's just the tip of the photographic berg.
The New York Public Library Digital Gallery is a new online resource. It's down right now for improvements, having been overwhelmed by the traffic. I saw it earlier this morning, long enough to feel overwhelmed too, with gratitude.

Meanwhile you can read about it in the Times by clicking here.

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