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Tate Insight: Interview

Updated Wednesday 1st March 2006

Oliver Vicars-Harris is interviewed about the Tate Insight programme.

Browsing at The Tate Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team

Tate Insight is taking on the ambitious task of digitising 50,000 pieces of artwork for the internet. Why?
Insight offers new paths into the Tate Collection through a comprehensive database of indexed images accessible through the Tate website. The ultimate aim of Insight is to develop a digital information resource that encompasses the entire Tate Collection and enables appropriate onsite and remote access to art for the widest possible audience.

How do you see people using it?
It has been designed to satisfy the needs of a range of users, from general interest public to the more scholarly art historical audience. The site can be used in advance to inform a visit to the actual galleries, or in retrospect to satisfy call for more detailed catalogue information.

Do you see this as a democratisation of artwork?
Absolutely - it provides free and open access to Tate's Collection regardless of person or place...

Have you had any feedback from users? What have they had to say?
We receive regular feedback on the site and the Collections area is consistently massively popular, with particular enthusiasm for the subject search and on-line images of works.

How do you see this resource being useful for people like art historians?
It is essentially Tate's only published complete up-to-date catalogue, and as such invaluable to the art historical audience.

Do you think this is a replacement for going to the gallery?
Absolutely not - although it can provide an invaluable substitute for those who cannot make it in to experience the works first-hand, it is really only an introduction and information source for Tate's Collections.

How is this useful for the general public?
The general public can explore the collection at their own pace and from their own perspective, without being intimidated by having to enter a hallowed gallery space or feeling they might be asking stupid questions!



Art Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team So how do I use the database? How do I find the artwork I am looking for?
It is easy to search the Collection through a range of access points, such as Artist search, Subject search, Simple search and Advanced search. There are also a number of pre-defined selections to look at. You can also become familiar with the scope of the Collection through the 'highlights' sections.


Do you have any tips for new users?
Try exploring the extensive list of artists represented in the Collection and the very wide range of subject areas.

Since the Well Connected team visited you, how has the project progressed?
Very well - we have already imaged and subject indexed all 50,000 British works in the collection under HLF funding and are now in the process of completing the collection digitisation with support from the New Opportunities Fund. We have also made a wide range of enhancements to the website to improve access within the Collections area.

When will the project be finished?
Work is ongoing to provide ever improved Insight into Tate's Collection, however, a key milestone was reached on 1 March when we launched the Turner Bequest on-line, representing a doubling of Tate's catalogue to close to 60,000 works.

How do you feel this project will contribute to the cultural wealth of the nation?
Tate houses the national collections of British Art and of international modern art, having these collections universally accessible on-line represents a significant showcase for the cultural wealth of the nation.

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