I’ve just come across the Smithsonian Archives of American Art online collections. This is a wonderful source, with all the archives digitised and available to view. The navigation available on the site is great, with an image viewer allowing the user to scroll through images, enlarge them and navigate through the folders. It seems to me to be a very well designed site, with a clear information architecture enabling the user to drill down to different levels and get a good sense of exactly where they are. I like the way that they have used the mix of text, photographs and drawings. The site is not perfect though – it does fall down on the use of XHTML, which is not valid. I suspect that the Smithsonian have rather more resources available for this sort of project than many of us are lucky enough to get (although the project did receive external funding from the Terra Foundation for American Art).
I was particularly interested in this site because it uses EAD, so it is a great example of the way EAD descriptions can be re-purposed. Whilst for many of us, simple EAD descriptions are all that we have the time and resources to create at present, this shows how using EAD means that we retain the flexibility to create more ambitious sites in the future.
If you go to the ‘finding aid’ link you can see the more traditional EAD description.
Image from the Smithsonian Archives of American Art website, under fair use (for non-commercial purposes).