The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia recently launched a virtual museum in Second Life featuring paintings and drawings from its permanent collection. The virtual museum contains an almost exact replica of the galleries at the museum in Athens and is available to all residents of Second Life.
Second Life is a free, virtual online world that is imagined, created and maintained by its residents. Since its inception in 2003, Second Life has provided a world that supports all forms of expression and offers educational, business and entertainment opportunities to millions of users.
The Georgia Museum of Art hopes to utilize Second Life as an educational tool for its current audience as well as a new online audience. The virtual museum offers users worldwide the ability to roam its galleries from the comfort of their homes.
The museum's Carlton Street location is temporarily closed for the addition of a new wing and renovation of the existing space. "GMOA on the Move," a 2-year series of off-site events and exhibitions, also will allow the museum to remain visible despite its temporary lack of a physical building.
"The creation of a virtual museum comes at an opportune time because it allows present and future patrons to remain involved while the brick-and-mortar museum is closed for our expansion," said Jenny Williams, media relations coordinator. "The virtual museum is an ongoing project that will continue to grow as the real-life museum grows."
The Georgia Museum of Art's research in Second Life is supported in part by a Museum Assessment Program grant awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency serving the public by strengthening museums and libraries. The research is also supported through partnership with the University of Georgia's Center for Teaching and Learning.
To get started in Second Life, users must first download the free software from www.secondlife.com. After creating an account, users can design their own avatars to search the virtual world. The Georgia Museum of Art can be found through the Second Life search engine by searching the museum's name. Current users of Second Life may find the virtual museum here.
Partial support for the exhibitions and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The Council is a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the Arch Foundation and the University of Georgia Foundation. The museum's galleries and shop are now closed in preparation for construction of the museum's expansion. Events and programming will continue while the museum is under construction as part of "GMOA on the Move," a series of off-site events and exhibitions.