Using the Hearst Museum Portal

The Hearst Museum Portal was designed with ease of use as a foremost priority. Nevertheless, not all features may be equally obvious, so here are answers to some commonly asked questions about using the Portal.

How do I start a search?

There are many ways to start your search. The field near the top of the page that says “Enter a few keywords here to get started…”, however, is the easiest way to begin your search.

Do just that—enter a word or a few words and click the search button (or hit enter), and you’ll be on your way. There’s no need to overthink things, as you can change any part of your query at any time.

If you’re unsure where to start, click on one of the featured collections on the front page.


What are the featured collections on the front page?

Those are themed collections of objects to get you started, if you have no idea where to start browsing. They represent a very small portion of the holdings the Museum cares for, but should serve to give you an idea of the diverse nature of the collections.

Click on any of the featured collections to get started, and then click on any images of objects that interest you to get additional details.

These featured collections are actually saved searches for photographed objects that meet the stated criteria. So, as more objects get photographed, or as we accession and/or catalog more objects, you’ll see the numbers of objects in some of these featured collections increase.

What are facets?

The facets are on the leftmost edge of the Hearst Museum Portal’s home page. A facet is simply a way to see the most commonly used terms in a given field. If you click on the Collector facet, for instance, the ten most prolific collectors are shown. If you want to see collectors beyond the top ten, click on the “more >>” link. You can then browse through all collectors.

What are bookmarks?

Bookmarks are a way of flagging objects that you might want to look at again. A “bookmark” checkbox can be found on list and gallery views, as well as in the object details view. Just click that checkbox and the object will be bookmarked for you.

To see your bookmarked objects, click on the “Bookmarks” menu item in the top right margin of the Hearst Museum Portal.

You do not need to be logged in to save bookmarks, but your bookmarks will only be saved between sessions if you log in. You can log in at any point and any bookmarks you created before logging in will be added to your account and saved.

What is Advanced Search?

Advanced Search is generally not needed unless you want to use specific boolean search operators like OR, AND, or NOT, or if you want to use other search logic such as requiring specific terms, or matching on any of a series of search criteria. With the exception of this last search behavior, all of this functionality is also available within simple search.
An example of a search that can only be done from Advanced Search:

What is Search History?

Clicking “History” takes you to Search History—a record of your most recent searches. You can then click on any of your listed recent searches to see the results of that search.

Search History is just a temporary record of your searches. If you have a search you’d like to permanently save, click on the “Save” next to the search in question. You’ll need to be logged in to save searches, but logging on (or creating a new account) will not cause your search history to go away. Just log in and click on “Save” again.

What are Saved Searches?

Saved Searches is your permanent repository of searches that you find especially useful. You can add any search to Saved Searches by clicking on “Save” next to that search in Search History, and you can delete any search from Saved Searches by clicking on the “delete” button next to the search in Saved Searches.

What does an account allow me to do?

Having an account allows you to permanently save your bookmarked objects and your favorite searches. If you think you’ll find those features useful, please feel free to sign yourself up for an account. Otherwise, you’re free to use the Hearst Museum Portal anonymously. Either way, the Museum will not keep track of what you do with the Portal or use your email address for anything other than letting you login to the Portal.

What are the different modes for viewing results?

There are four ways you can view search results:

  1. List View—A brief library-system-like view that contains up to six fields of information plus a photo of the object, if one has been taken.
  2. Gallery View—A grid-like view that also contains up to six fields of information plus a photo of the object, if one has been taken. The layout is formatted to display objects in three columns instead of just one.
  3. Masonry View—A modern, image-only view that is most similar to a lightbox view. This view is best for quickly scanning large numbers of photos.
  4. Detail View—This view displays all public details, all object images, and all associated scanned documents for a single object.

The first three views can be user-customized to display 10, 20, 50, or 100 objects at a time, and to sort by either Object name or Museum number. The fourth view displays only one object at a time, and so has no sorting options.

Can I change the number of results per page?

At the top of the results page is a pull-down list that reads “10 per page.” Select this list and choose the number of results per page you’d like to see—10, 20, 50, or 100.

How do I get back to my search results?

At the top of each object details page is a link labeled “Back to Search.” Click on this link to be taken back to your search results.

How do I page through search results?

At the top left of each object details page, just above the object name, are two links labeled “<<Previous” and “Next>>” Click on either of these links to go to the previous or next record in your results list.

Advanced Topics

Can I search for a specific object?

Yes. If you know the Museum number of that object, you can either search from the main Hearst Museum Portal page or the Advanced Search page. From the main page, change the field selector in the search bar from “Any Fields” to “Museum number” and then enter the object’s museum number.

From Advanced search, enter the Museum number of the object in the Museum number field and hit return.

Note that searches for specific Museum numbers must use the object’s exact Museum number. For instance, when searching for “1-10a-d”, you must enter exactly that; a search for “1-10” will return no results.

How do I do an OR search?

You can search for objects that have any of a set of terms by using the “OR” operator in advanced search. For instance, you might wish to find dolls or toys. To do so, enter the following in the object name field: doll OR toy. Be sure to write “OR” in all caps for it to work properly.

How do I do an AND search?

You can search for objects that have all of a set of terms by using the “AND” operator in advanced search. For instance, you might wish to find objects made of both ivory and obsidian. To do so, enter the following in the Materials field: ivory AND obsidian. Be sure to write “AND” in all caps for it to work properly. The “AND” operator is actually not needed in this example, as words entered in advanced search fields are by default combined with AND.

You can also use multiple logical operators in your search along with parentheses to make more complex queries such as this:

Materials > (Obsidian AND Ivory) OR (ceramic AND glass)

How do I use the year range widget?

Two fields (Year collected and Accession year) make use of a graphical timeline widget. To use this widget, just slide the upper and/or lower limits to any value you desire and then click on “Limit” to apply those limits to your search. If you prefer, you can also type in specific start and end dates and click “Limit.”

How can I search for objects from a place that has hyphens in its name?

As hyphens serve as logical operators in a search, you’ll need to enclose the place term in quotes. For instance, to search for objects from CA-Ala-1, you will need to enter the place name in quotes: “CA-Ala-1”.

What is the difference between "match all" and "match any" on advanced search?

“Match all” in advanced search requires that every object in the result set have each search criterion you have entered. “Match any” in advanced search on the other hand just requires that every object in your result set have at least one of the search criteria you have entered.

For instance, a search for Museum number > 6-1161 and Materials > pearl will return only 1 result with “Match all,” but will return 123 results with “Match any.”

Are searches case sensitive?

No. You can enter a term in lowercase, uppercase, or a mix of the two and the Hearst Museum Portal will find results regardless of capitalization.

I tried to use the simple search bar from the Advanced Search page, and nothing happened.

Sorry about that. This is an unintended consequence of a design choice made by the developers of Blacklight, the software underpinning the Hearst Museum Portal. We have reported it to the developers and hope they devise a solution to the problem.
In the meantime, there are several ways to get out of the pickle you’re in, in order of increasing complexity:

  1. Click into any Advanced Search field and hit the return key.
  2. Get out of Advanced Search by going back to the main Hearst Museum Portal page and trying your search again.
  3. Edit the URL and strip out the word “advanced” after “”

Why are there sometimes fewer facets visible?

Depending on your result set and the information that those records contain, you may see more or fewer facets on the left-hand side of the results. Facets will not display if no relevant information is contained on the found records. For instance, if your result set contains 10 objects and none of those objects has a material listed, the Materials facet will be hidden, as it would otherwise be empty.

Return to the Hearst Museum Portal.