History of the WGA (1996-2022)

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 (Western) painting, sculpture and graphic arts from 200 to 1900. Less complete but substantially covered are the sections of Medieval and Renaissance illuminations, decorative arts, and architecture.

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

YearMonthImagesDevelopments in
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 architecture700-1900-
2016December42.400focus on Renaissance and Baroque architecture--
2017April43.400focus on graphics and sculpture, as well as on Italian 15th-16th-century fresco cycles--
2017September44.300focus on 18th-19th century arcitecture as well as on Scandinavian 19th-century painting-increasing the security of the site (transforming it to https)
2018January44.800ground plans and cross-sections of buildings were added to the enhanced architecture section-wide screen version of the architecture section was introduced and improved
2018May45.400focus on 17th-century Flemish art and architecture-wide screen version of the sculpture section was introduced
2018September46.000Early Christian and Pre-Romanesque art and architecture were included200-1900-
2019January46.700focus on 16th-17th-century French art and architecture--
2019May47.300focus on 17th-18th-century French art and architecture, as well as on 14th-15th-century Italian painting--
2019September48.000focus on 16th-17th-century European architecture--
2020January48.600focus on Renaissance art and architecture outside Italy-HTML pages are converted from ANSI to UTF-8 encoding
2020June49.500focus on 16th-century High Renaissance and Mannerist sculpture in Italy--
2020December50.500focus on 15th-century Renaissance sculpture in Italy-wide screen version of the entire collection was introduced
2021June51.400focus on 14th-century sculpture in Italy-wide screen version of the entire collection was improved
2022January52.800focus on art and architecture at the end of the 19th century, extended to the beginning of World War I-website security strengthened
2022March53.000decision not to increase the number of images; starting a project to re-design and upgrade the existing guided tours--
2022August53.00018 existing guided tours re-designed and upgraded; decision to focus on designing new guided tours--
2022November53.000introducing a new guided tour: Art Nouveau--
2023May53.000introducing a new guided tour: Renaissance chapels with sculpted decoration--
2023July53.000introducing a new guided tour: Still-life painting--
2023September53.000introducing a new guided tour: Lombard painting schools in the 16th century-postcard service improved

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

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© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.