The Museum at Five Points is making exhibits more accessible to the public through Google Open Gallery.
The Google-developed software provides an electronic platform for the museum to catalog rarely seen and borrowed collections and allow them to be accessed online.
“This is something that Google has been doing for awhile. They piloted with larger institutions, specifically art museums, and I think what they’re real goal is to branch it out to other institutions,” executive director Hassan Najjar said.
The Museum Center at Five Points became a part of that branching out when it answered a call for those interested in being a part of testing the beta site.
“It’s really an opportunity for us because collection software is expensive,” Najjar said. “So for us to be able to use this at no charge … is just a great opportunity.”
To kick off the local museum’s online collection, curator of Collections Lisa Chastain said the museum focused on getting local memorabilia that was merely on loan cataloged and available to the public.
The most recent addition is local artifacts from “In the Dirt: The Fast and Dirty World of Dirt Track Racing.”
“We had such a huge response of photographs and artifacts that we just couldn’t fit them all in the exhibit,” Chastain said.
The online gallery has allowed these resources to be viewed by the public. The platform also allows visitors to the site to zoom in on photos to get a better look at details on some of the images.
Items from the exhibitions “Cleveland Works” and “Building Cleveland Up” are also featured in the museum’s Open Gallery.
One photo available in the Museum’s online gallery features seamstresses at Hardwick Clothes during the Great Depression when the company developed kits for the women to work from home and keep their jobs.
“This was scanned in at wonderful resolution. You can really go and get in on it,” Najjar said.
Chastain said the exhibits featured museum artifacts that may not be seen again “for a year to two years.”
Another gallery features a rare photo of the Bohemian Theater.
“It was right downtown across from the courthouse. You can still see the structure of the eaves and pick out the building,” Chastain said.
Just as with artifacts in the museum, the online gallery has descriptions of each item.
An ultimate goal would be to have the museum’s entire collection cataloged through the software.
Right now the museum is focusing on the photographs it has. Chastain said the date of the photograph, the place and other data is included. Sometimes when a photo is given to the museum, there is not much information included with it.
Chastain said research is done to find out the necessary information to explain what is in the photograph.
“The work is already being done for the exhibits, so it is easier to put the exhibit pieces on display,” Chastain said.
She said getting items from the permanent display onto the Open Gallery would take more time.
“We are currently working on ‘Paul Huff: Story of an American Hero,’ so he will go live with all of the items that we have for him,” Chastain said.
She said she thinks the museum will be continually adding items to the online gallery.
Using Open Gallery also makes the local exhibits searchable. Najjar said there is potential for the collection to come up in a Google search if someone types in something featured in theonline gallery.
The Museum Center at Five Points Google Gallery can be accessed at http://museumcenter.culturalspot.org/home.