Wednesday, December 24, 2008

HAR History, Stats & Other Information (Part 1)

The Himalayan Art Resources website (HAR) was created by and is still funded by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation. The site was begun in early 1997 and went live in September of the same year. At that time the site was known as the Tibet Art Project and used the Url 'tibetart dot com.' The Url and name were changed in 2001 to Himalayan Art Project and the current Url The name was changed again in 2004 after numerous academics complained about the use of the word 'project.' They suggested that the word 'project' implied something of a limited and finite duration. They apparently did not want HAR to be finished and wrapped up to soon. After that the name was changed again to Himalayan Art Resources which better described the actual work the site was doing and was more inclusive of the large number of countries, traditions and ethnic communities represented on the website.

Initially the people involved were Don and Shelley Rubin, Moke Mokotoff, Jane Casey Singer, Keith Bush, Chris Wilkinson and others. The web development was done primarily by Comvision of New York with input from web developers of Multiplan Inc. In the fall of 1997 I (Jeff Watt) was asked to provide content for the site but declined at that time because I felt the site was too faith based. There were only 625 images of paintings on the site at that time. In April of 1998 I was asked again to provide content for the site and slowly began to add descriptive write-ups to the individual works of art. At this time it was only paintings (tangkas). In 2000 and 2001 the site began to add sculpture and begin to distinguish between Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, etc. This was not an easy time.

In those early years Angela Powell, a Multiplan employee, did all of the scanning, numbering of images and uploading to the site. Ben Brinkley, hired by Shelley & Donald Rubin Cultural Trust in the fall of 1999 to start the development of an education department for the future Rubin Museum of Art, quickly became one of the most important assets in the development of the HAR website. Ben was also responsible for the creation of the Kids section of HAR.

In 2001 Tenzin Dharlo began work on HAR as the administrator followed by Pema Choephel as web developer in 2002. Soon after that Monty McKeever was hired as a summer intern, and then a returning intern, and then hired full time. His work and writing is well represented on the HAR site under the various miscellaneous, Jataka, and mahasiddha stories. David Pritzker was brought onto the HAR team in 2008 as an assistant curator after working with me for 2 years at the Rubin Museum of Art.

See two early articles about HAR: Virtual Treasures, The Himalayan Art Project to the Rescue by Joan Duncan Oliver (2003) and A Virtual Museum, Himalayan Art Resources by Barry Boyce (2005).

Angela Powell has moved on and is happily working in the health care industry. Ben Brinkley remains both a professional educator and web developer at a university on the West Coast. Monty Mckeever has returned to complete his college education. Pema Choephel is a professional web developer at a prestigious college in Oregon. Both Ben and Pema still consult for the HAR website and provide valuable advice when needed.

The staff of HAR has dwindled down because of the late 2008 economic situation. Tenzin Dharlo remains as administrator with Simon Chantasirivisal in charge of image management. David Pritzker will remain as a roving curator while traveling abroad. In 2009 HAR will be starting an unpaid Intern Program in the New York offices with the hope to maintain the level of image uploads on the site and to maintain the quality overall. (End of Part 1)

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