The Bridgeman Art Library

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Founded in 1972, with offices in London, Paris and New York, the Bridgeman Art Library is a veritable virtual mega museum of fine-art images, with everything from cave paintings to contemporary canvases. Museums represented include the august likes of the British Museum and the British Library, the National Galleries of Scotland, Sweden and South Africa, the Hamburg Kunsthalle and major collections in France and Italy. American collections that have joined Bridgeman include the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Harvard Art Museums, Yale Center for British Art, the museums of Detroit, Houston and Phoenix and the collection of the Barnes Foundation in Pennsylvania.

But sorting through so much art can be as daunting as elbowing your way through a hot-ticket Picasso show. Hence, Bridgeman has launched a new website, designed by freelancer Rupert Bassett, in the interests of greater user accessibility. "Now you don't have to be an expert to find exactly what you want from our collection," says director Harriet Bridgeman. One of the first picture libraries to appear on the internet, Bridgeman has now doubled the size of its web catalog. New images are updated nightly on the site, and the search engine has been refined with new features like a negative search tool and options for sorting search results in a variety of fashions: alphabetically; by artist's name; by the century of the work; if registered; or displaying newer images first. Lightbox facilities are said to present a flexible system for ordering image selections and can be shared or e-mailed between registered users, making project decisions quicker and easier.

Moreover, My Bridgeman is a new personal section where registered clients can see the history of their image orders, monitor current licenses and review their account details. Alert messages pop up to indicate overdue transparencies or expired licenses, providing an instant account overview. In addition, the site provides an up-to-date list of Bridgeman's member collections and artists, an extensive help section and the latest company news. Seen here is the work of some artists new to the Bridgeman catalog.

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