Website Review

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History is a reference, research, and teaching tool for students and instructors interested in global art history. Encompassing the vast collection of art from across the world at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), New York, the timeline uses chronographs, associated images from the MET collections, and essays to produce a wide variety of educational resources that can be used both in school classrooms as well as for lower-level undergraduate classes.
There are three ways to access information within the Timeline in the form of three tabs at the top of the main page. The first is as a broad chronology of art across time and space. In this option, students can choose a time period and a region with a simple click on a map or choosing the relevant time period and region from the drop-down menu to find general information about the particular region within a specific time period. The timeline essays are a general overview of the region that can situate students and provide them with names of countries and cultures included. These essays also introduce artistic practices of a given region. Additional information on related topics of interests, rulers, and other connected timelines are provided on the right sidebar. All essays in the timeline as well as in the other sections have hyperlinked keywords that make it very easy to find related information within the site. The second way to access information on the Heilbrunn Timeline is to look through the hundreds of essays written by MET curators and affiliated art historians that cover virtually every art object in the MET Collection. These essays are wonderfully succinct descriptions of particular types of distinct art objects or artistic styles within different cultures. The essays are written by specialists in an accessible language that can be easily understood by students. Each essay includes relevant objects from the MET Collection, hyperlinked keywords, and access to related essays in the sidebar. Most essays also provide further readings for the interested reader in the last section of the webpage. One of the great advantages to instructors using these essays are that the images linked within this site are largely open access and covered by Creative Commons license so you can use these images within class presentations by directly saving the images from the essays to your computers. The third and final way to access information on the Heilbrunn Timeline is using the tab 'Works of Art.' This option takes you directly to the MET's open access online catalog. Like with the other two search functions on this site, works of art can also be searched using three drop-down menus: time period, geographic region, and thematic category. Once you select a work of art for closer study, the catalog page will give you detailed catalog and provenance information, available images of the art work, and a list of helpful tabs for more information including cross-links to Heilbrunn timeline essays in which the artwork is mentioned. The object page also provides a list of related objects, any MET publications or exhibitions that enlists the main art work, and the license by which the work of art's images are covered.
For example, the entry titled Carpet with Triple-Arch Design, ca. 1575-90 provides the catalog entry for this sixteenth-century Ottoman carpet along with reference essays in the Heilbrunn that references this carpet. When you scroll down the page, you will also find related links to exhibition and publications where this art object is showcased as well as images of related objects.
The Heilbrunn Timeline of History is an exceptionally user-friendly site that makes global art objects at the MET visible and accessible to the broader public. Students and teachers can find many uses for the knowledge packed into this resource. The cross-linked essays, images, and chronology makes it easier to understand art works and their place in history. Overall, the timeline is a valuable resource for those teaching or learning global art history using a finite collection within the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Reviewed by Deepthi Murali, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media

How to Cite This Source

"Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History," in in World History Commons, [accessed January 20, 2022]
Image of a sixteenth-century Ottoman carpet showing a portion of the carpet's main design field that contains a triple arch design with slender double columns and a hanging lamp in the central archway
“The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History is a reference, research, and teaching tool for students and instructors interested in global art history or teaching global history through art.”