What makes an Online Museum Real? an #MW2015 Face-to-face Session

Museums and the Web 2015 F2F Session

8 people convened for breakfast on Sat., April 11 to discuss “What makes an Online Museum Real?” Participants agreed that limiting eligibility for IMLS funds to organizations that “exhibit[s] tangible objects” is “crazy” in today’s world. Several criteria for characteristics of “real online museums” were suggested but the group did not come up with a comprehensive list. Key points included:

  • Digital objects are as important as physical objects.
  • Online exhibition now has greater public reach than physical walk-in spaces.
  • Online presentation creates unique challenges for controlling audience access.
  • Linked open data procedures blur boundaries of ownership and conservator responsibility.
  • Preservation process is different for born digital artifacts.
  • Real museums contribute to public knowledge and understanding but may, as in the case of some children’s museums, not be deeply involved in academic scholarship.
  • Professional curation is important in online museums.
  • Online galleries and exhibitions are as “real” as physical ones.

A variety of topics emerged during the discussion ranging from the importance of active participation in democratic processes such as this legislation to the changing nature of the objects that populate the modern world (physical, abstract, informational). We concluded with acknowledgement of how thinly stretched each of us is by our work obligations and a commitment to bring our diverse professional networks into this ongoing conversation.

Participants included:

  • Liza Loop, History of Computing in Learning and Education Virtual Museum
  • Alice Campbell, Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries
  • Eleanor Fink, Art and Technology Advisor
  • Neal, Design for Context
  • Amos Lieberman, Missouri History Museum

What do you think?

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