Pastperfect-Online Help

For help with other versions of MWeb, go here.


Overview of MWeb

Overview of MWeb

Note: MWeb is the name of the software used for this collection.

Click one of the pictures below for the feature you need more help on.

Step 1:
Step 2:
View Search Results
Step 3:
View Data or Images

Keyword Search

Advanced Search



Search Results

Full Record

Image Viewer

Use Keyword Search if you know what terms to search for. Use Browse or Click-&-Search to explore without typing. Use Advanced Search for complex searches. Any of these searches can search all records (a data search) or just records with images (an image search).

In the Search Results, click text links to see more data about an object. Or click any thumbnail (small image) to see a large image; large images show in the Image Viewer where you can resize or move them.

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Click-&-Search is a quick way to search without having to know what terms are in the database. All terms are presented for you in a clickable manner.

You will see a list of Search Categories in the records. Each has a clickable alphabet next to it. Click a letter to see terms that begin with that letter.

After you click a letter, you may see a list of ranges of terms. Click one of these to keep going deeper.

Finally you will see a dropdown box showing the data in the database. Click the arrow on the right of this dropdown and scroll the terms. When you click on a term, the search is performed for you.

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Browsing is another way to search without having to know what terms are in the database. The museum has developed a hierarchy of interesting topics -- just click one to perform a search.

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Keyword Search

Enter one or more keywords in the entry area of the Keyword Search; they are ANDed by default (that is, ALL terms must be in the record for it to be found):

     france wine
     storm mainsail capsize

These are equivalent to:

     france AND wine
     storm AND mainsail AND capsize

If you want to find records where ANY keyword is found, type the word OR between each two terms. You may not mix ANDs and ORs:

     cupid or eros or amor

You may also search for a phrase (adjacent words) by enclosing it in double quotation marks:

     "united states"
     china "tea set"
     teaset or "tea set"

You may truncate keywords by adding an asterisk at the end, such as in


Asterisks in the middle or at the beginning of the word are not allowed.

You may see radio buttons labeled All records and Images only. These two searches retrieve the same set of records. However, the second search displays images, so records without images are not shown. Usually there is not an image for each record, so some records will not be displayed if you request the Images only search.

You may also specify that only certain record types are searched by clicking on the dropdown arrow and making a selection.


There may be a Timeline or two date fields which you can use to constrain your search by date. You need to enter one or more keywords also. If the Timeline is present, simply drag the red pointers over the timeline until the dates you want are shown below the timeline. If the date fields are present, enter the dates in the boxes (see Date ranges below for help on entering unusual dates).

Other tips:

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Advanced Search

Advanced Search allows you to specify more details about the search you wish to perform. For example, an Advanced Search can differentiate between china as a material and china as a location. The former would go in the Description Search Category and the latter in the Geographical Coverage Search Category.

Each Search Category of the record has a box where you can enter search terms: you may enter either keywords or phrases; the latter should be enclosed within double quotation marks. Searches are NOT case-sensitive.

If there is a box labeled Keywords, search terms (keywords or phrases) entered there will be searched for everywhere in the record. In contrast, search terms entered in the other boxes will be searched for only in the type of data that box is labeled for.

You may use keywords in some fields and phrases in others. You may enter more than one keyword and/or phrase for a Search Category to indicate that all terms must be in the Search Category. The same rules apply as shown above for Keyword Searches. Note that you may not mix ANDs and ORs in the same field, but you may use both in different fields.

You may truncate keywords by adding an asterisk at the end. Do not use asterisks in phrases.

Truncated searches are slower. We suggest you try to search without truncation if possible.

Sometimes it's helpful to see what kind of data a Search Category contains. It the site has this option, you may browse the Search Categories in Click-&-Search.

The site may offer the option of limiting the search in various ways. You must still enter one or more search terms in addition to using these limiters.

The site may offer the option of sorting the results of your search. You would do this by clicking a radio button next to the Search Category you want to sort on. For a sort by date, use the Start date field for greatest accuracy. Note: records that do not contain the Search Category you choose to sort on will not be included in the search results. For this reason, sorting may return fewer records than the same search unsorted -- or may even return no hits.

Click the Search button when you have selected and/or entered all the values you want. Search results will contain records that meet the ALL the criteria you specified.

Date ranges

A date-range is a pair of fields that allow you to specify a beginning date, an end date, or both, depending on the kind of search you are doing. You may enter search terms for other fields as well as using a date-range. (Not all types of records have date-ranges; they are clearly marked if available.)

A start date without an end date is interpreted as any date equal to or later than the start date. An end date without a start date is interpreted as any date equal to or earlier than the end date.

Dates may be years only, years and months, or years, months, and days; these options take the forms

You can use any of the following as the separator in dates:
    / - . , :
To enter a BCE date, add BC with no space or periods, as in
Capitals and parentheses around BC are optional. The BC can go at the end of the date or right after the year.

Start dates are searched as >=, end dates are searched as <=. Also, if days or months are missing, they are rounded down for start dates and rounded up for end dates. For example, if your start date is 100 and your end date is 200, records will be found whose creation dates are on or later than January 1, 100, and on or before December 31, 200. To achieve a search that is strictly before the year 200, enter the end date as 199/12/31.

To search for an exact date, enter it in both fields.

Records with unknown or missing dates are not retrieved by daterange searches.

More examples (all are valid):


Search Suggestions

The MWeb site you are using may have elected to use the Search Suggestions feature. In case your search found no records, Search Suggestions lists words that are spelled similarly to those in your search. Just click on a word to perform a search.

Searches performed by clicking in Search Suggestions search all forms of material indexed on the site, rather than just the material you may have been searching for. For example, it will search for library records and other forms, as well as museum objects, and it will search for all records and not just those with images.

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Search Results

Search Results are shown either as a thumbnail image (small image) or as a brief record. In either layout, clicking on a thumbnail image displays the large image, and clicking on the highlighted link always displays the Full Record. There may be additional clickable links for names and titles associated with the record.

Some sites allow you to switch between the thumbnail view of Search Results and the brief record view. If so, then your choice stays in effect until you change it, unless a particular display has only one of the two layout options.

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Full Record

A Full Record consists of data, thumbnails for all images for the record, and possibly media icons if any media are linked to the record.

Sometimes data fields in the Full Record are links. Clicking these will take you to the Full Record for the link. For example, you can click on an artist's name to see all the information about that artist along with a list of all works by that artist.

As with all thumbnails, clicking on them displays the full-size image. There may be a button like See All Images which will show all the full-size images for the record.

Clicking on a media icon plays the media, if you have the appropriate player installed in your browser.

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Viewing Images

Whenever you click on a thumbnail image (small image), the large image will display.

Image Viewer

Some browsers are capable of displaying the large images in the Image Viewer where you can resize and move them.

Image Windows

Some browsers do not support the programming language required by the Image Viewer, so they open each image in a separate window. Any number of images can be opened. You may move and resize the windows as you wish.

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Hints & Tips


You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser in order to use MWeb. No changes are made to your computer or to any files. No information about you is transmitted or stored.

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You must have cookies enabled in your browser in order to use MWeb. No changes are made to your computer or to any files. MWeb cookies disappear as soon as you close your browser. Nothing is stored on your hard drive. No information about you is transmitted or stored.

A cookie is a small amount of text that is sent to your browser from a website. The cookie stores only your user id and permissions, your current search, and related information.

If you get the message Logon required, you must set your browser to accept cookies, either you have not logged on when required, or your browser is not set to accept cookies. Some browsers allow you to say whether you want to be alerted when a cookie is received. This is your choice -- but constant notifications can be very annoying.

For more information on cookies, see Wikipedia article.

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"Page has expired" message

If you click a button to return to a previously viewed page in MWeb, and receive the message Page has expired and suggesting you click Refresh or Reload to see the page, your browser cache is full, so there is nowhere for it to store the MWeb pages. You can empty the cache from the browser's Options or Preferences menu item. If this happens often, you can enlarge the cache using the same menu item.

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