A Virtual Museum Amid The Masterpieces

SINCE 1991, VISITORS TO THE National Gallery in London have been using a state-of-the-art multimedia system to get a quick education about the museum's artists and artworks. Now visitors to the National Gallery of Art in Washington can do the same using Micro Gallery, an interactive computer setup modeled on the one in London. Cognitive Applications Ltd. in Brighton, England, provided the technology and graphic design; American Express funded the project.

The system employs 13 touch-screen monitors arrayed in the Art Information Room on the main floor. Each provides color images, text, animation, and sound for about 1,700 paintings, sculptures, and other works. The system also has a dictionary, an audio pronunciation guide, and an art history time line going back to A.D. 1100. Browsers can print out tour maps to find their favorite works or artists.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.