Museums Online II: From Organisation to User: the changing focus of a museum website


Malcolm Chapman, the Head of Collections Management at The Manchester Museum spoke in our seminar today.


The history of the Manchester Museum website although not a-typical, serves as a case study for the pathway of progression that the majoirty of museum websites take. Linking closely with Piaget’s theory of development (which paralleled week three’s reading) where digital learning was concerned, Malcolm spoke to the difficulties as well as the triumphs of the website and the website-building process.


  1. Issues of uniformity were raised concerning the museum’s identity which is reflected in the now permanent pink visual of the museum’s logo (shown above).

  2. Issues of continuity where outside web company program capabilities and in-house producers of content were concerned. Outside companies tend to have more sophisticated programs and when content is updated in-house, the same stylistic effects may not be produced.

  3. Issues of translation and access. In its early stages, the website was aimed at scholars. Language was highly academic and because researchers were closely affiliated with the museum, staff contact details were not posted. Now with the changing museum website user, language has changed (as indicated in the parenthetical asides of the dropdown menu).

2007 will be a year of even further site improvement. WIth the addition of a New Media department, staff members may be given training to generate their own web content. Visitors can expect increased viewer-to-web interaction, a clearer understanding of voice in web-generated content, and content that is more up-to-speed with the museum’s current happenings.


 Thank you, Malcolm for taking the time to speak with us.