Posted on May 23, 2023

The University of Pretoria (UP) Museums for International Museum Day (IMD) 2023, we partnered with Google Arts and Culture to share a new virtual Pocket Gallery titled, Artology: Select works from the University of Pretoria Museums, featuring iconic artworks by 20 th and 21 st century South African artists.

Among the 47 online artworks within a digital and virtual gallery are signature and distinctive works by South African artists. These include works by Maggie Laubser, Maud Sumner, William Kentridge, Irma Stern, Judas Mahlangu, Allina Ndebele, Diane Victor, Amita Makan, Walter Battiss, Alexis Preller, Helen Sibidi, Gregoire Boonzaier, Nico Roos, Christo Coetzee, David Koloane, Erich Mayer, Bettie Cilliers- Barnard, Frans Oerder, Hendrik Pierneef, Sam Nhlengethwa, Judith Mason, Leonard Matsoso, Nita Spilhaus, and Georgie Pappageorge.

The Pocket Gallery features the first work acquired by the University of Pretoria, a linocut of Paul Kruger donated to the institution in 1922 by Pierneef, and the recently acquired augmented reality (AR) painting by the young UP alumnus, Andrea du Plessis.

On #IMD2023 Day, 18 May 2023 the UP Museums shared the Artology Pocket Gallery with 55+ new pocket galleries from institutions around the world in a themed project on “Museums Sustainability and Well-Being”.

The UP Museums are the first museum in South Africa to feature a web Pocket Gallery, it can be accessed anywhere and anytime from a smartphone or desktop. The Pocket Gallery is a free tool that creates and self curates a digital gallery from a new story using a selection of four gallery templates: four rooms, a Klimt gallery, seven rooms, or a three room gallery. The user is able to select any plan for their gallery, add a story title, description, gallery entrance and cover image.

Digital curation enables one to paint the exterior, step inside the gallery, and curate the exhibition, placing 2D image assets or artworks onto the gallery walls. The gallery editor allows one to change the colour of the interior and exterior of the gallery, add texture and selecting the best colour scheme to customise the gallery to complement the artworks. These are ideal and adjustable features.

Curated data of the art collection on exhibition is easy, from editing the side, perspective, and border to the option of adding a frame to the artwork and audio (complete with the typical museum-like echo) via adding audio hotspots. Online audiences can walk through the gallery, navigate to each room, zoom in on artworks, and browse the digital gallery. The written description provided by curatorial research describes the artworks subject matters, its history and the artist’s biography

Google's Pocket Gallery allows users and audiences from around the world to access South African artworks by the likes of Pierneef and Preller, including work normally not accessible to the public in a university museum.

“The Artology Pocket Gallery is our first exhibition in a virtual gallery. It provides the ideal creative space to showcase the diverse museum collections, since we do not have a dedicated permanent art gallery of our own. Audiences can experience the collection in a simple browser, and use your mouse and finger to move around the gallery and zoom in. You can view, pan, and enhance in closer detail, right down to the brushstrokes and flecks of paint to fine detail” added Dr Sian Tiley-Nel, the Head of the UP Museums. UP first partnered with the Google Cultural Institute in 2020 out of a digital trajectory need following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the closure of the university museum. “Google Arts and Culture, as our partner, continues to provide dedicated support, and we welcome this new mode of curation and the endless possibility of opening up the research and educational possibilities of Pocket Gallery to far more people around the globe than ever anticipated.”

The new web Artology Pocket Gallery feature by Google Arts and Culture also provides an audio guide to the definition of Artology, the curatorial statement for the Artology: Select works from the University of Pretoria Museums exhibition currently open on view at the Javett-UP Bridge Gallery and a short history of the University of Pretoria Art Collection which celebrated 100 years of collecting (1922-2022).The Artology Pocket Gallery follows from the highly successful exhibition opening and launch of the book by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Tawana Kupe on 19 April 2023.

The University of Pretoria Artology Pocket Gallery will also be profiled in the Google Arts and Culture Africa Month blog post to celebrate 25 May 2023 - Africa Day.

You can explore this and over 60 other new 3D Pocket Galleries from museums around the world without leaving your home https://artsandculture.google.com/pocketgallery/oQVxtpTnjHUnaw

- Author Dr. Sian Tiley-Nel

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