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656 reviews
3,165 helpful votes
This is the official American National Gallery of Art website. It's unexpectedly conservative for an arts site, a minimalist style that you may or may not appreciate, but at least that makes it a fast loader. The page background is uniformly white, not a color generally best suited to displaying all images, but the decision not to use black does mean we don't have to struggle to read colored text.

Everything is pretty well organized and there are no nods to Web 2.0 here, as yet, so you just point and click what you want to see or where you want to go, often on a purely textual link, or intuitively, on an image. Instead of opting for a style based on virtual tours, the site is arranged and displayed much more like a print-based guide or catalog.

It's not common for a site to choose Quicktime to display movies when Flash is available, but that's what has been chosen here, ensuring that video downloaders designed to capture material from YouTube-like sites are out of luck. And QT may stream very slowly, making for a longer wait than you expect from Flash. However, at least one of the Firefox downloaders will handle QT so check that out if you prefer, or need, to download and watch offline. One way or another, the various video podcasts here should be available to all, with a little preparation.

The site has a somewhat academic feel, without being too pretentious about it. It's quite heavy on text, sometimes offering more than a screenful of information about one work, and although the language is often scholarly it's also quite accessible. If you find an artists' work inartistic, or his motives unfathomable, the commentaries here do help you to see more objectively.

Those of us with photographic interests will also find a significant collection here including the works of Fox Talbot, dating back to 1834. Truly historic, as well as historical.

If you're looking for a gallery site that doesn't place content after style in the interests of popularization, this is one you'll enjoy.

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