Skip to Content
Saint Adress No Divider Saint Adress No Divider

Get More at Home with Our Interactive Catalogues

The Digital Museum


Engage with artworks in ways that aren’t possible in print—and sometimes even in person—from the comfort of your home.

The Art Institute’s digital catalogues are free, full-length publications that invite you to zoom in, rotate, layer, and immerse yourself in art. Curators and conservators reveal what their extensive research and intensive examinations tell us about artworks and the artists who made them. To date, we’ve created 14, which focus on objects from ancient Roman mosaics to Henri Matisse’s Bathers by a River and Ivan Albright’s Dorian Gray to our noted holdings of works by French Impressionists.

Here’s a taste of what these path-breaking projects have to offer.

Look beneath the Surface

Saint Adress 5mb

Slide between normal light and X-ray images of Claude Monet’s Beach at Sainte Adresse to see the figures and two ghostly white boats that didn’t make it into the final version. The artist painted this seascape in multiple sessions and changed the composition as he went. X-ray and infrared images of the work show that there was once a number of city-dwelling vacationers gazing out over the water and an additional group of boats out at sea.

For more on all our amazing tools at your disposal, see this how-to guide.

Recreate the Artist’s Process

Gustave Caillebotte

Watch a video that places Paris Street Rainy Day on the streets of present-day Paris. In an unprecedented collaboration Art Institute and School of the Art Institute staff explain how painter Gustave Caillebotte used a camera lucida to project the streets of Paris onto his drawing paper and create a preparatory sketch for his famous painting Paris Street Rainy Day.

The camera lucida was a 19th-century drawing aid that, by means of a small prism, allowed Caillebotte to see both the street scene in front of him and his sheet of drawing paper at the same time. That meant that he could copy the perspectival geometry of the intersection onto his paper just by tracing the lines of the buildings.

See Objects in 3D

An ancient Roman ring made of glass spins, showing rainbow refractions of the light.

This ancient Roman Finger Ring (mid-3rd/early 2nd century BC) is made of ground and polished glass, and its beautiful iridescence is the result of interactions with the soil in which it was buried. Produced before the invention of glass blowing, this ring was fashioned to imitate costlier materials and was a sign of wealth and prestige for the owner. The digital catalogue includes a 360-degree image with buttons that allow you see its brilliant colors from every angle.

Explore Details

Ivan Albright

Dive into Ivan Albright’s Picture of Dorian Gray, which was commissioned for the 1945 movie version of Oscar Wilde’s famous novel. Many of the background objects that Albright included in his works were painted from props that he set up in his studio. The artist painted with brushes made from a single hair, using tiny lines of paint to slowly build up his macabre scenes. Zooming into the details of this canvas reveals three rogue footprints, two gloves, one cat, a letter with an ornate seal, and a whole lot of decay. You can learn more about this painting and how Albright worked in his Chicago studio in the associated catalogue essays.

Turn Back Time

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Instead of before and after, look at the after and before in this digital restoration of what Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Madame Léon Clapisson would have looked like when he created it. Renoir used a particular red pigment that has faded over time, dramatically changing the painting’s present appearance. The original color is visible under the frame at the edges of the canvas and also in samples of paint taken from different areas of the composition. The digital catalogue allows you to compare the original color and the current color, revealing the dramatic impact of time and light on the work.

Even More to Explore

Most of our catalogues focus on major artists or cultures represented in our collection such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Gustave Caillebotte, Paul Gauguin, Ivan Albright, American Silver, and Roman Art.

Some build on past exhibitions, such as The Modern Series: Go, The Modern Series: Shatter Rupture Break, Whistler and Roussel: Linked Visions and James Ensor: The Temptation of Saint Anthony.

These digital catalogues are designed for anyone who wants to take a closer look at our collection from anywhere in the world. Always free to use, they work best on a desktop or tablet.

—Lauren Makholm, assistant director of production



Further Reading

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions