History of the WGA (1996-2017)

The Web Gallery of Art was opened in October 1996 with 1.100 images representing Italian Renaissance painting and sculpture. The images were presented in a simple html structure providing limited search possibilities. From this time on, the number of images continuously increased, and significant developments took place in the timeframe and content of the collection which now covers comprehensively the European painting, sculpture and graphic arts from 700 to 1900. Less complete but substantially covered are the sections of American art, as well as Medieval and Renaissance illuminations, decorative arts, and architecture.

In the table below, the most important milestones in the development process are summarized.


YearMonthImagesDevelopments in
contenttimeframetechnique
1996October1.100Renaissance painting and sculpture, guided tours1400-1600simple search
1997October2.900Gothic and Early Baroque arts added1200-1700advanced search
1998February3.500--picture postcard service installed
1998September4.000section for illuminations created--
1999February4.000--image viewer with zooming installed
1999March5.000--switching over to frames
1999June5.000glossary of art terms, downloadable catalogue--
1999July5.000supplementary database (history, museums, etc.)--
1999December6.000late Romanesque art added1150-1700-
2000March6.500focus on Flemish primitives--
2000October7.300--search engine improved
2000December7.300--picture postcard service improved
2001May8.500late Baroque, Rococo periods added1150-1800-
2001November9.200--MIDI background music introduced
2002April10.100--Dual-Window Mode introduced
2002October11.000focus on German art (particularly graphic arts)--
2003May11.600guided tours reworked--
2004September11.600--migration to new server, new graphic design
2004December12.300Neoclassicism, Romanticism periods added1150-1850-
2005February13.300--user-generated, custom artist lists
2005May13.800focus on Spanish art--
2006April15.300--experimental discussion board launched
2006August16.100--MP3 background music introduced
2007January16.100--experimental discussion board closed
2007April17.100focus on 16th-18th-century French art--
2007September18.400focus on medieval mosaics, stained-glasses and metalworks--
2008February18.700--links to on-line classical radio stations added
2008May19.300section of dcorative arts created--
2008June20.300focus on Dutch Golden Age--
2008November20.300--musical picture postcards introduced
2008December21.300Realism period added1150-1875-
2009June22.000--selection of MP3 music significantly widened
2009October23.000Romanesque period, Byzantine icons included1000-1875-
2010July25.200focus on Italian Renaissance art--
2010December26.000Italian Renaissance architecture included--
2011April27.000--displaying larger images
2011August27.600focus on Italian mosaics--
2011November28.400--experimental mobile version launched
2012May29.000--experimental mobile version improved and synchronized
2012November31.100French Impressionism included1000-1900-
2013March31.800Impressionism outside France included--
2013July32.500Section of illuminated manuscripts enhanced--
2013November33.300focus on Italian frescoes from the 14th and 15th centuries--
2014March33.900focus on Italian paintings from the 13th century-new images are of higher resolution
2014July35.100section of architecture created--
2014November36.000Baroque and Rococo fresco decorations--
2015March36.800Section of medieval illuminated manuscripts enhanced--
2015July38.000focus on Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age--
2015November39.300focus on Italian Trecento and fresco decorations in villas in Veneto--
2016March40.100focus on Romanesque architecture and 19th-century sculpture--
2016July41.100focus on Medieval art and architecture0700-1900-
2016December42.400focus on Renaissance and Baroque architecture--
2017April43.400focus on graphics and sculpture, as well as on Italian 15th-16th-century fresco cycles--


The graph below summarizes the development of the collection in terms of the number of images.