***Class Session 2 (15 May) Information Resources Preliminary thoughts about additional info to add to Wikipedia entry: Say something more specific about standing exhibits of material from permanent collection. Mention notable exhibits with dates. Mention regular programming (Friday evening film series).

Maybe use some info from the following: "Experts speak of the breadth and quality of their collection..." "This after a fashion led him to an art mastered in remote Himalayan monasteries, in which every royal blue and brilliant red earthen hue held meaning and message for initiates ("Himalaya" is the Sanskrit word for House of Ice and Snow). Tantric Buddhism acknowledges, even embraces, the darkest depths of the human psyche. There's no point in ignoring the obvious. So their art is filled with ferocious-looking demons, many-armed blue creatures with vast teeth, the better to devour our own demons of ego and jealousy and anger, and safeguard dharma, or the teachings of the Buddha.

The museum deals quite directly with the darker side. A visitor to the fourth floor (each floor is shaped like a mandala around that central staircase) finds the Demonic Divine: Himalayan Art and Beyond, which is thick with deities with ashen-white skull faces and mesmerizing eyes. Skeletons dance, demons make love, and often they are our protectors."

(from Wikipedia entry citation: Powell, Michael (October 17, 2004). "In New York, Himalayan Art with a Lofty Mission". The Washington Post.)

"Since the Rubin opened in October 2004, attendance has reached 100,000 visitors a year, many of them regulars..." "For the museum’s original opening, Mr. McHenry and Lisa Schubert, formerly the director of external affairs, also devised “The Flag Project,” a set of outdoor banners by well-known contemporary artists based on the concept of Buddhist prayer flags. The activities Mr. McHenry oversees are now primarily concentrated on Friday nights, when the museum and its exhibitions stay open late. The ground-floor cafe and its fluid seating area are transformed into the K2 Lounge, with a D.J., colored lights, electric votive candles and cocktails named (usually by Mr. McHenry) for the movie screening that evening." (from Wikipedia entry citation McGee, Celia (March 12, 2008). "He's Hauling in the Visitors by Livening Up the Events". The New York Times.)

And make use of this more recent news--this is a new source that can be used as example in making first edits to the RMA Wikipedia article:

Follow-up note 23 May: Added Exhibitions section with additional references and links. Rubin Museum of Art page on this Museums wiki revised to match (roughly) the Wikipedia page.

***Class Session 3 (16 May) Usability and Accessibility:


1. HTML Validator ( results: 30 errors, 7 warnings.

First error is re missing alt tag:

An img element must have an alt attribute, except under certain conditions. For details, consult guidance on providing text alternatives for images.


<img src="/images/stretchy_1.jpg" />

The “stretchy_1.jpg” is probably a placeholder or other unimportant page element, but there should still be an alt tag that says so; this would inform a visually impaired or other text-only user that s/he isn’t missing something (per J. Bowen)

Other errors also seem minor and there are many repeated instances of the same error. There are 7 instances of this:

Element span not allowed as child of element ul in this context. (Suppressing further errors from this subtree.)

With first example: <a href="/about">The Museum</a>

And 6 instances of the very similar looking: Element br not allowed as child of element ul in this context. (Suppressing further errors from this subtree.) With example: (from line 234, col. 8) {!!NOTE TO SELF: try to find out what these are about?}

And others such as “The hspace attribute on the img element is obsolete. Use CSS instead.” And” The vspace attribute on the img element is obsolete. Use CSS instead.” I assume that these are just unnecessary extra bits of code related to graphic layout that have been superseded by the CSS. {!!Is this true?}

So in all, although 30 errors is perhaps only an average result, the errors seem minor and there are considerably fewer different errors because of repeated instances of the same error.

2. Browsers and View

The site loads properly in all browsers checked, taking the same length of time. Browsers checked: Firefox, IE9, Google Chrome, Safari. The Ctrl +/- feature for changing the view size works, except that the main nav buttons at the right side (Shope & Dine; Search) begin to get mashed together. You can get to a relatively large size before a horizontal scroll bar appears (four clicks up from initial load size). But when you go to full screen view, the page size is fixed, with blank space on the sides--so created by someone with a graphic designer's point of view so the large background image looks good; not as web-friendly as it could be.

3. Load times (

A. First test: New York Load times overall were within acceptable limits: 2.95 sec first view; 1.91 sec repeat view. The google thumbnail map showing the museum’s location was one of the slower elements (line 4 of Waterfall view). A java script (google api, lines 18 & 19) and an image within it, “splash-1.jpg” (line 24) were another slow element. Content breakdown shows that 52% of requests were Java Script, which occupied 30% of the space. This seems to be related to the 5 or 6 different background images that change when you reload. Images accounted for 32% of requests but >65% of space. The remainder was CSS (12%/3%) and HTML (4%/1.5%). There is no flash, which is good.

B. 2nd and 3rd tests: Jiangsu, China; and Singapore: Both failed due to session timing out. So pages weren’t loading in time. China was testing IE7; Singapore IE8. C.

4th test: Frankfurt: Load time was slow at 6.88 sec and 3.76 repeat. The google thumbnail map took much less time here, coming in well within the “problem line,” but the google api java script still took a long time, and the “splash” jpg even longer—this seems also related to the changing background images, as this was “splash-4” where the New York test had “splash-1.” The RMA might think about whether the visual and aesthetic benefits are worth the cost in load time.

4. Metadata

The metadata includes a title: <title>Rubin Museum of Art:Art of the Himalayas</title> But no keywords. However, the inclusion of a subtitle (which does not appear on the visible site) adds worthwhile information. In all, the keywords art, Himalayas, museum, and Rubin appear, which is probably sufficient.


Lynx text browser: Generally works properly, but there are problems. At the very beginning, there is one stray image note regarding the stretchy, see HTML validity notes above), but then the text is as it should be. However, there is an issue with many/most of the top- and second-level menu links, which, when selected, show an error msg reading “bad partial reference. Stripping lead dots.” This message would make users think that the link didn’t work, but in fact it does—when you scroll down, the relevant page text is there. Another issue is that the alt tags are usually just a simple label (e.g., Tara), without any further description, so Lynx users would not gain any sense of what the image depicts. The site has several instances of “click here,” which is not helpful to text-only users. Examples were found within the admissions information and at “to find out about tours.” Finally, there is a translation error in the word café; the accented “e” comes through as various characters or symbols in different places—a Greek theta in one instance, various symbols from the Unicode “box drawing” set elsewhere. Similar “box drawing” symbols also appear in place of the dash in the opening hours and the apostrophe in “New Year’s Day.” (All of this is within the “Hours and Admission” section under “Visit.”) (checked 17 May): 46 known problems. Almost all (38) were re color contrast, re the lext at the bottom of the home page, from the copyright notice on down. Text is a creme color against dark brown background; if it were closer to white, or if the background were a different, lighter color, it would be better.

***Class Session 4 (17 May): Personalization & Interactions


1. Participates in Google Art Project, which allows creation of galleries, image sharing (but this is not on their own site).

2. "One Word" feature--users can tweet one word about their museum visit that will be added to the site. Not many so far, some are repeats. {!!How are they adding to the list? Automatically? Manually?}

3. Leave a comment available on Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor

4. Lack of personalization in section on educational materials. {!!Think about what they could do}


Viewed in wayback machine on Check about once a year to see how/when major changes occurred. First instance: 26 May 02: Under construction. 25 Aug 04: First instance of new "Opening Oct 04" page w/Enter link that takes you to what would become their standard site for several years. Aug 05: same. May 06: same. Oct 07: same. 12 Apr 08: first instance of changed site (missing CSS features). March 09: changed again (no missing CSS) {does this happen earlier? Check dates in between} Oct 10: change again {is this essentially the same as current site}


Added brief new final paragraph with reference to NYTimes ArtsBlog item re $25 million donation announced October 2011. ***18 May: RMA Site Visit. Notes and images may be viewed on the page Rubin Museum Gallery and Object Photos

***20 May: Notes re RMA and HAR

From RMA site FAQ: How can I find out what works of art are in the RMA collection?

Answer: At this time, Himalayan Art Resource is the best and most comprehensive source of information on the collection. We hope to have the collection in a searchable database on this website in the future.

My notes: all objects in the permanent collection have been assigned an HAR number, which appears in parentheses following the RMA accession number. You can then go to the HAR site (, type in the number, and see metadata and description of the image. You can search by collection to see all images from the RMA or any other participating institution, or you can search on a number of facets to find certain types of images (e.g., bodhisattvas in paintings from 19th-century Nepal in the RMA collection). The HAR was also founded by the Rubins and its offices are a block away from the RMA. The site’s chief curator and director, Jeff Watt, was the founding curator at the RMA (1999-2007). HAR began in 1998 with 625 images; it now includes more than 40,000. So the HAR site does everything you would expect if the RMA database could be searched directly on the RMA site. It is very odd that the RMA site does not prominently advertise the availability of the collection on the HAR site; the RMA site mentions HAR in passing on several pages, but does not feature the information in the Collections section of the site and does not explain, when it mentions its affiliation with HAR in the “History” subsection of the “About” portion of the RMA site, it does not note that this is where information about objects in the collection is available to the general public. Very confusing—why not publicize this? What will the searchable database on the RMA site mentioned in the FAQ answer do differently than HAR? Why duplicate the effort? (Something to ask RMA staffer if a mtg can be arranged.)

***Class Session 5 (21 May): Behavior: Social Media/Community of Practice/Online visits/E-commerce

1. Social Media: They have icons for every social media site imaginable on their home page--Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Google Art Project, Pinterest, YouTube, blip, artbabble, and ITunesU. But their presence on the main ones (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr) is still mostly driven by posts from museum staff that are very PR-heavy, promoting particular events or making efforts to encourage participation through contests and the like. Much duplication of information (though presented in site-appropriate ways) from one venue to another. Comparable institution: Asia Society--Facebook page similar, except that their recent posts reflect more current events news (e.g., re Chen) than activities/events at the institution. Their stats: 24,079 likes; 272 talking about this.

2. CoP: Very little evidence of this. Special pages for educators, but nothing to engage with them or encourage them to start communicating with each other or writing in. There's a separate education blog, but it also seems forced--the museum trying to keep it going and come up with things to say/staff interviews, etc. Not developing into a sustained, returning group of participants or any sharing about their visit experiences, etc. Nothing from students about their visits. The "Online Community" page under the "About Us" tab simply suggests signing up for their e-news lists, becoming a member to receive seasonal newsletters, or following them on the various social media sites. They don't point to the actual existence of anything like a real "online community."

3. Online visits (statistics): Physical visitors number 190,000/year per website ("About Us: History"). Facebook: almost 11,000 "likes"; 247 talking about this; 2,694 were here {what exactly does "were here" mean?}

4. E-commerce: Under "Shop & Dine" tab on Home page, most info is re cafe; re shopping, they have this:


Our museum shop is open! Please stop by to browse the exciting, new merchandise, exclusively available at the Rubin Museum. For more information about our exclusive gift items, special discounts, and store policies contact us at 212.620.5000 x350.

Currently, we are developing our online store. Check back soon as we hope to offer a robust catalog of merchandise, more than ever before!

So nothing yet. But in fact their shop is more interesting than most, since they have unusual items and books for sale that you won't find in every other museum, which is so often the case in NYC. Includes genuine Tibetan handicrafts, etc.

***Class Session 6 (22 May): Collaboration

1. Affliations: They are an accredited member of AAM. Not a member of Museum Association of New York (MANY;, but some other large museums also aren't--seems focused on small, local museums.

Found a Tibetan Mongolian Museum Society (, which has 24 members, including other distinguished institutions like the Ashmolean, the Asia Society, LACMA, MFA Boston, Brooklyn Museum. The organization is based in Alexandria, Virginia, founded in 2008. Looks as if started by a couple, not sure what its activities really are.

On its website the Rubin notes its affiliation with the Himalayan Art Resource website and the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center, which provides bibliographic and research services for texts. Both are housed in offices located a block away from the RMA and are funded by the Rubins, so don't quite count as entirely independent affiliations. But the HAR is (as already noted) where one can search the RMA collections, so it is an important technological collaboration, and Rubin is by no means the only participant--only about 2,000 of 40,000 items on HAR are from RMA.

The RMA is also a new participant in the Google Art Project, to which it has so far contributed about 100 images.

2. Discussion forums: I found about 10 items that mentioned the Rubin on the Museum-L listserv. Most were passing mentions, e.g., as an example of a building retrofit (2009), as one of the venues for sessions of the Art Museum Partntership Directors Forum in 2006. The only one of substance was a query from Nov 2005 from someone seeking expert information about a carved skull, possibly from Tibet or Bhutan, and a response suggesting he try the Rubin. No further discussion in that thread, no response or participation from RMA.

I found one relevant post on the Museums3 forum. A question in Sep 09 asked about the future of the audio tour; a respondent who is deaf mentioned a recent visit to the RMA during one of its ASL guided tours.

I found an Asian Art forum (, but a search on the Rubin did not yield any results.

***Class Session 7 (23 May): Mobile Apps test: failed. Score of 2. Large page sizes was one problem noted.

Failed because there's a page that uses frames (near line 313 col. 2). Got a warning re incorrect or missing MIME types: detected as text/html.

Readiness score: 1.45 / Size: 308.03k / US cost 2.46 euro / Speed: Wifi 1.6 s; 3G 18.11 s; GPRS 76.67 s test: failed (a Java problem? try again at home)

RMA does not provide a special mobile site or a mobile app. Not sure about wifi--forgot to check and will do so on next visit. Their website does not mention it.

QR codes:

QR code 1 is from

QR code 2 is from qrcode/

Wikipedia QR code is from, for RMA Wikipedia page.

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