Website Evaluation — The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
Institution: Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
Designer: bluecadet interactive
URL: http://explorer.muralarts.org/
Category: Exhibition

I decided to evaluate the Mural Explorer website which is based around the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. What drew me to this site was the premise it encompassed: site specific art (extremely site specific art), this arts esotericism, and the idea that, through the use of this web site, the view through the would be able to navigate through the esotericism to gain a deeper understanding of the art and the community its found in. I think there is a lot to be said about community based art which is often lost to outsiders, and the meaning of this art might be lost with the passage of time.

The site offers a couple entry ways of navigating though the gallery, which consists of high-resolution images of the murals found around Philadelphia. First, there is a general gallery, which is just that. This gallery offers general images of murals from all over Philadelphia. The next starting point is “The Heart of Baltimore Ave” which is a single mural gallery which offers stories from that neighborhood which correlates to images in the mural. The third entry point is via “Love Letter”, a gallery which tracks 50 murals from all across the city. These 50 murals, when taken together, form a love letter “from a guy to girl.”

The image navigation is amazing, and can be approached through thumbnails (arranged alphabetically or by most popular, viewers choice), a scroll-bar at the bottom of the screen which appears when the cursor is moved over it, in an external link which takes the viewer to a map which shows the exact location of the murals in relation to their place in the city and each other, and a arrow attached to the control panel located at the bottom right of all the displays which allows the viewer to flip though the murals. The site also offers a zoom application which allows the viewer to study the murals in more detail; however, I did not find it zoomed in close enough… I want to see the peeling paint. However, this is my one problem with the site. The control panel offers a collapsible explanation of the murals as well. The site offers links to other Mural Project sire which explains more of the purpose of the group.

I found the site intuitive to use, and successful in the way it chose to display the art. Also, I appreciated the many ways of navigating though the images. I don’t feel a search box would be appropriate for this site as it would violate the natural way of coming across the murals on the site which reflects the way a viewer would come across the murals while traveling through Philadelphia. I also enjoyed the ease at which a person could contact the organization with information on additional murals, making even more about community.

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