Museums on the Web: Interaction with Visitors

Museums on the Web: Interaction with Visitors

Max Arends (Vienna University of Technology, Austria), Doron Goldfarb (Vienna University of Technology, Austria), Dieter Merkl (Vienna University of Technology, Austria) and Martin Weingartner (Vienna University of Technology, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-044-0.ch007
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Abstract

This chapter surveys current best practices for museum-visitor interaction on the Web and presents impressive, publicly available examples. These examples illustrate particular interaction ideas and highlight promising research directions. The chapter provides a qualitative analysis of museum Web appearances with specific focus on interaction between museums and their visitors. The material in this chapter is grouped around the interaction paradigms of Web 1.0, Web 2.0, Web 3D, and mobile Web. The main focus of the analysis is on art museums. However, when more advanced solutions are visible at other museum types, they are mentioned as well.
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Introduction

The Internet and especially the World Wide Web on top of it is playing an incredible role in enabling democratic access to information and interactive communication for its participants. This development is even more remarkable when remembering the history of the Internet that was conceptualised during the Cold War era in order to ensure the possibility of communication after a nuclear strike (Rosenzweig, 1998). The success of the Internet is amongst other issues also due to its decentralised structure and open standards and protocols. For a review of the history of the Internet in terms of the network part, we refer to (Leiner, Cerf, Clark, Kahn, Kleinrock, Lynch, Postel, Roberts & Wolff, 2009).

Once available for the general public, the Web quickly became a prime information source. In general, museums realised the potential of information dissemination on the Web quite early. Just to give some examples, the Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive1 lists the first Web site of various art museums as shown in Table 1.

Table 1.
Dates of first Web sites of selected art museums according to the Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive
MuseumCityURLDate of first Web site
Metropolitan Museum of ArtNew Yorkwww.metmuseum.org11 Nov. 1996
National Gallery of ArtWashington, DCwww.nga.gov5 Apr. 1997
National GalleryLondonwww.nationalgallery.org1 Dec. 1998
Musée du LouvrePariswww.louvre.fr3 Dec. 1998
Kunsthistorisches MuseumWienwww.khm.at29 Apr. 1999

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social media: Digital media created by users that is shared on the Web via various platforms.

Social Tagging/Indexing: Social tagging refers to the collaborative creation of a classification system that allows users to annotate content with arbitrary tags.

Web 3D: Web applications using 3D user interfaces.

Multi-User Virtual Environment: A computer generated environment that is visualised as 2D or simulated 3D space on the computer screen. It can be visited simultaneously by multiple users, which are able to communicate with each other either asynchronously or synchronously.

Web 1.0: The Web perceived as one-to-many communication model with few content creators and many content consumers.

Mobile Web: Web applications optimised for mobile devices, increasingly using location-based services.

Web 2.0: The Web perceived as many-to-many communication model where each participant has the opportunity to create and/or consume content in an equal manner.

User-Generated Content: Web content that is created by users and shared on various dedicated platforms like Flickr, Youtube, Facebook.

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