I spent some time today doing online research regarding a sculpture in the holdings of the Museo archeologico nazionale in Naples. Actually, I was trying to determine if the work in question was actually on view in the galleries or in storage. Having the inventory number, I was able to find the sculpture on the museum’s image database; however, it didn’t say where the work was located specifically within the museum. (This something that few museums seem to have on their website, but it is so useful when doing collection research!)
Now with the name of this sculpture in Italian, I tried a image search on Google. I found it on several Italian sites dedicated to the promotion of Italian cultural heritage. I could only surmise that because the work was found on those sites it would be available for visitors to discover. However, those sites gave me the impression that the Farnese collection was exhibited as a group and I knew the statue was in that collection (I’ve never been to Naples, so I have no prior knowledge of this museum’s layout). Since nothing was coming up on that work specifically, I thought I would look up general shots of the museum’s Farnese galleries that people had put online. The Farnese collection is famous and one of the reasons why people visit the museum (another reason is the secret room of erotic art from Pompeii and Herculaneum). Thus there are loads of photos available for leisurely online browsing.
After a while (it didn’t take as long as I thought it would), I came across an image taken from a different angle of one of the presumably more famous works from that collection… and there, small in the background, was the less-famous sculpture for which I had been looking all afternoon!
Online research is a bit like archaeological excavations. You keep digging, taking in all the details and clues, and eventually you do find something.