Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Openness in the air

Although some museum curators and directors fear that technolgy poses a threat to the quality of exhibits and the integrity of the institution, many other museum people see the Web, in particular Web 2.0, as an opportunity to make the museum into a public institution that engages with its environment. Open Museum Practices, including Open Museum Online, are the raison d'ĂȘtre for Heritance. Heritance is not alone. This year dozens of annual museum conferences are focused on technology and its democratizing effects. Here's one such conference and a good explanation of the growing interesting in the Open Museum.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hidden Treasures for Museum People

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the US National Parks Service has created a clear, simple and comprehensive Museum Handbook that is free and available online. Given that the Parks Service is responsible for the stewardship of hundreds of parks (I stopped counting, when I arrived at "C" in the index and already reached 40 parks), I should have realized sooner that museums, as much as parks, are their core business. They maintain an attractive, but limited because it is static, website , that gives you a feel for the scope and value of the collections in their care. The site carries the somewhat uninspiring name, Museum Management Program that points to a web 1.0 creation whose end ought to be near. I'd love to see this site undertake to engage visitors through the Web 2.0 technology that is available.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Looking back at 1988 Yellowstone Fires

NPR did an excellent story this week about the 1988 fires in Yellowstone National Park and how the media coverage of the fire led to public outrage and misunderstanding.

I'd recommend a listen to anyone who's interested in how public sites of national symbolic significance can be recast depending on the story that gets told and the facts shared.

Listening to the report, I also wondered how the emotionally charged handling of the story at the time created a lasting impression in the American public about the essential meaning of wildfires, and the drama and emotional tone of wildfire stories.

The report is by Liane Hansen and Laura Krantz.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Museum of Online Museums (MoOM), the invention of Coudal Partners, is a hip site that has recently received lots of recognition. As CP recounts on their website:

Tons of new listings and exhibits have been posted for the summer at our Museum of Online Museums. The MoOM was featured on All Things Considered and in the NY Times. It was also selected as one of Time Magazine's 50 Coolest Websites and was discussed on a recent episode of NPR's Hello Beautiful!

MoOM features a variety of exhibits which it groups into three categories "museum campuses" ( linked to "bricks and mortar" institutions), "permanent collection" (of particular interest to design and advertising) and "galleries, exhibitions and shows" (ecclectic and ever-changing). Although a visit to MoOM is worth the detour, it does not permit the full range of visitor participation you might imagine in today's Web 2.0 world where tagging, rating, comments, and reviews are the norm.