Museums continue to struggle with how to retain a relevant and scholarly publishing program in the digital age. The model that most museums continue to employ — relatively low print-run catalogues, the best of which quickly go out of print while the less successful languish in storage — seems largely outdated in our current moment where we have come to expect almost immediate access to books and a reading experience that is vastly different from what your average exhibition catalogue can provide. In order to make their books more accessible, The Metropolitan Museum in New York, a bastion of scholarly publishing — has recently launched MetPublications, an online portal for their publishing activity since 1964. With a searchable database of more than 600 catalogues, journals and Museum bulletins, the Met has digitized a vast amount of content, more than half of which is currently out of print. A large amount of material is available as pdf downloads or as Google Books that can be browsed online. All of the books in the database include a table of contents and descriptions of the authors, making this an invaluable resource for researchers. The publication database is also linked to the Met’s collection database and information on artworks related to each publication appears alongside the book. It’s exciting to see museums redefine their publishing mandates to respond both to an increasingly digital world and to a global audience that may otherwise not have access to this scholarship.
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