what’s a theodolite?

theodoliteThe transit theodolite is a surveying instrument which measures latitute, longitute, and altitude. There’s an old wooden one (~1840) in the collection of the mighty Powerhouse Museum in Sydney Australia. The theodite has been around in one form or another since the 1500s, and is still used today. Shown at left, a blinging bronze theodite courtesy the Antique Sextant.

We mention it not simply because it’s a neat word we’d never heard before (and has the prefix theo- without having anything to do with god), but as an example of the Powerhouse Museum’s online collection, which comes correct with user-generated and automated tags, similar objects and subjects (not to mention subjective and objective descriptions and tagging systems), and good use of the zoomify zooming software (a free and easy web imaging kit we’ve worked with before).

spectacular craptacular vernacular

The Museum of Vernacular Photography is a geocitiesesque online collection of old photos, or, as the scrolling teal banner on the top of the page tells you, “great images by as-yet unappreciated & undervalued artists.” Let’s disregard the double negative of that tagline and explore the collection!

Lovers of the female form won’t be disappointed, as the Museum showcases Bathing Beauties, Nudes & Erotica, as well as the strangely themed Two Women collection. Other collections include Flying Machines, French Collotypes, and Japanese Snapshots.

Most bizarre of all is the My Summer Vacation collection, which features a smattering of beach themed photos narrated in prose by what seems to be a semi-literate eight year old. All is going well–The beach is nice, my grammy hates the sand, my dad bought a neat maroon Buick–until the end, when they decide to climb a mountain with Leni Riefenstahl “But, my father said that it was too dangerous and rented the video for Alive instead.”

Richard T. Rosenthal, Founder, Director, Curator, we salute you!


curate my rack

Boring and historically de-contextualized wall labels be no more! Museum 2.0 is here, synergistically harvesting public insight in a folksonomical moblog of tag clouds for museum objects and artificacts. It’s steve.museum, “the first experiment in social tagging for museum art collections.”

Here is another awesome Steve who lives on the web.

We snark, but SD kinda likes this project, although we hope their populist naming scheme wasn’t inspired by Microsoft Bob. And a +1 for the dot-museum suffix. May it never leave beta.