Mark Harden's Artchive: CD-ROM Reviews

Virtual Museums: Uffizi

Published by E.M.M.E. Interactive
(203) 869 8144

This review and the accompanying scans were contributed by Artchive patron King-Han Gan of Rotterdam, The Netherlands


This CD calls itself a 'virtual reconstruction' of the Uffizi Galleries, the world's oldest museum. The real Uffizi is in Florence, the city where the Renaissance started, and it contains the collection of the Medici's. This family of bankers, later arch-dukes of Tuscany, were important collectors and commissioners of art. The Uffizi started as an office building for the Florentine city government. The Medici's stored part of their large art collection on the top floor. In this CD reconstruction, the user can move through the rooms and corridors of the museum in a DOOM-like animated interface - only much slower. All the rooms are included (even the washrooms) but the walls and floors are bare except for the works of art. The baroque decoration of the original can be glimpsed in the videos that give an impression of how the real museum looks. You also get videos with views of the Arno river and the square in front of the museum.

If you ever have been to the Uffizi at the height of the tourist season, you know how crowded it can be. In this CD no-one stands between you and the pictures. All images come with a brief comment, and a link to an artist biography. These biographies also show important works that are in other museums. The Uffizi's great strength is in Florentine Renaissance painting. Art from elsewhere or from other periods is often not first rate.

The program opens onto a plan of the museum. Clicking on a room will reveal a little videoclip of that room [Screencapture]. Double clicking will take you to the room, which is shown in 3D with all the pictures on the wall. You can turn and navigate from room to room with the mouse. [Screencapture]. By clicking on a painting you can see the painting full screen, or a commentary on the picture or the artist [Screencapture].

The CD lets you visit this famous museum without the expense or the crowds. The interface is novel, but on my 486-66 it was often slow when switching from one view to another. A satisfyingly large number of paintings are featured, the same fractal compression is used as in Microsoft's Art Gallery. Art CD-ROMs are always a compromise: the screen has a lower resolution than the printed page, and it cannot compare to the original. However, a CD is cheaper than a book with 500 colour plates, and you get away learning more about the art than you generally would on a visit to a hot and crowded Italian museum.






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