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The Online Museum


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Lecture for George Washington University MSTD 297 "Museums and Technology" course. 03/27/08

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The Online Museum

  1. 1. George Washington University MSTD 297: Museums & Technology The Online Museum Dana Allen-Greil New Media Project Manager National Museum of American History 03/27/08
  2. 2. Online Collections <ul><li>“ If visitors can access our digital collections using the Internet, will they still come to the museum in person ?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ If people can look at pictures of beaches online, will they still vacation in Florida?” </li></ul>Source: Paul F. Marty, &quot;Museum Websites and Museum Visitors: Before and After the Museum Visit.“ 2007. Photo (Top): Curtiss JN-4D Jenny, Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum.
  3. 3. Physical and Virtual Visits Complement Each Other <ul><li>A 2005 study found that: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>70% of museum visitors specifically look for online information prior to a museum visit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>57% say the information they found online increased their desire to visit the museum in person. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Online visitors use museum Web sites to: </li></ul><ul><li>plan visits to physical museums </li></ul><ul><li>learn more about museums after a visit </li></ul>Source: Paul F. Marty, &quot;Museum Websites and Museum Visitors: Before and After the Museum Visit.“ 2007. Chart: Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), InterConnections: A National Study of Users and Potential Users of Online Information . 2008. Chart: The number of remote online visits is positively correlated with the number of in-person visits to museums and public libraries. (2007)
  4. 4. Who is on a Web site development team? <ul><li>Some team members will be in-house , others may be contracted or be external partners. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Curators / subject matter expert </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Educators / interpretive planner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project manager </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exhibition designer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public affairs / marketing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web staff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Designers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Developers/ programmers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Project manager </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Writer/editor </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sponsors / Partners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Colleagues at other institutions </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Process <ul><ul><li>0. RFP (Request for Proposals) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discovery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Goals </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assets </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Audience </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Scope </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Wireframes/ information architecture </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Directions (~3) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Homepage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other key pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interaction design (i.e., what would the steps be for a user to do x activity) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Programming and database development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Production (images, animations, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deploy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beta test </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Launch! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5. Maintenance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Site documentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Original graphics files </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Budget <ul><ul><li>Call your colleagues for estimates on similar projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work your Web budget into project budgets (e.g., exhibitions, partnerships) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost keeps going up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discounts / partial pro bono </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t forget maintenance and staffing! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audio/video/image rights </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Content, content, content <ul><ul><li>Tell a good story and people will use the site </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes sites that aren’t high-design are still very popular (e.g., Between a Rock and a Hard Place ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web sites live a long time, keep that in mind when developing content…and watch your traffic grow over time. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Challenges <ul><li>Evaluation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is very hard to gain knowledge about your online visitors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Who are they </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Why are they coming / what do they want from you </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How often do they come </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Sustainability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Once you build it, they will come… and then you have to keep it updated and working! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Content </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Technology </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Someone to pay attention to it </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Funding </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Often tied to exhibition sponsors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Harder to fun wider-reaching projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Difficult to fund the staff you need </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Accessibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New technologies offer new opportunities but also new barriers for those with disabilities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neither assistive technology nor technology-specific accessibility standards are keeping pace </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Technology Planning: Questions to Consider <ul><li>Who needs to be at the table? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Skills (content expertise, audience evaluation, interpretive planning, user interface design) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Departments (curatorial, education, exhibitions, technology) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Users! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Which goals are most important? </li></ul><ul><li>What problem are you solving? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is the project supposed to serve ? Is target audience the same online as it is in other media? </li></ul><ul><li>How will you measure outcomes ? </li></ul><ul><li>What expectations do you and your target audience have for look & feel, aesthetics, navigation, usability? </li></ul><ul><li>Did this start as a Web idea or is it an adaptation of another type of project (e.g., PR, exhibition, book, etc.)? How will you translate it for online media? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Technology Planning: Good Practices <ul><li>Bring all the stakeholders into key decisions (including users). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design user-centered sites not institution-centered sites </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interpretive planning should include technology and media strategies. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Integration throughout planning, content development, and design of exhibitions. Technology should not be segregated from other types of messaging media. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be realistic . Museums have limited resources (staff, time, funding). What will give you the best return on investment (ROI)? </li></ul><ul><li>Plan for sustainability . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who will maintain media component(s)? How will maintenance be funded? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How will it be updated over time (content/hardware/other technology)? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collaborate . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>With vendors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Educators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other institutions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Users </li></ul></ul>For more about ROI, see: Leonard Steinback, “Analyzing Return on Investment: Process of Champions,” in The Digital Museum . American Association of Museums, 2007.
  11. 11. What makes the Web special <ul><li>What can you do online that you can't do in the physical museum? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strengths of online media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Manipulation of artifacts </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Getting up close/ details </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not restricted by time/place </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Navigate any way you want to </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weaknesses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Integration with other museum functions <ul><li>Exhibitions & collections </li></ul><ul><li>Communications strategies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PR </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Email communications </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fundraising </li></ul><ul><li>Other publishing media (e.g., print calendars, museum signage) </li></ul><ul><li>HR, interns, volunteers </li></ul><ul><li>Visitor services </li></ul>
  13. 13. Resources <ul><ul><li>Museum Computer Network (mcn-l) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Museums Computers Group ( </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>AAM Media and Technology Committee </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Museums and the Web </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. SHOW AND TELL
  15. 15. Online Exhibitions <ul><ul><li>Multiple ways to navigate content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>America on the Move </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> (Exhibition, Collection, Themes) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Timelines <ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Online Collections <ul><li>Zoom: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Dilemma: Publish everything as is or vet it first? <ul><ul><li>Publish everything (with a caveat) vs. Publish vetted records only </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Publish everything: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vetted only: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>h ttp:// </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. User-generated content: Tagging <ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> (Create sequences, tag) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. My Collection <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  21. 21. Educational Games <ul><ul><li>Games (costly) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Web 2.0 <ul><li>Your content will go online whether you post it or someone else does… </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Trip to DC: </li></ul>
  23. 23. Community Building <ul><li>Brooklyn Museum </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  24. 24. Blogging <ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Mapping mashups <ul><ul><ul><li> (Google Earth) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  26. 26. User-contributed content: Stories <ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Merging the Physical and the Virtual <ul><ul><li> (Flickr cascade at Denver Art Museum) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> (Blogmode at the Met) </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Social Networking <ul><ul><li> (NMNH model) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> (Luce Center profile model) </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Video <ul><ul><li>Boston Pops contest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Podcasts/Vodcasts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>iTunesU </li></ul></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Wikis <ul><li>GeoPedia </li></ul>