Week 4 – The changing role of a museum website…

Hi all!

I hope everyone had a successful fourth week of Digital Heritage and that the group projects are coming together nicely. It’s my turn (albeit belatedly!) to reflect upon last week’s session where we were treated to an extremely interesting presentation by Malcolm Chapman, Head of Collections Development at The Manchester Museum as the second part of The Online Museum section of the course.

In Malcolm’s presentation, I found the screenshots of The Manchester Museum’s website at various stages of it’s evolution extremely interesting. Since the session, I emailed Malcolm for some images to add to my post which I will do as soon as I receive them. The shots of the 1994 and 1998 sites especially made me reminisce of when I first got online using a 56k modem, a dial-up connection and a phone cable that I had to trail from my bedroom to the socket downstairs, tying up the phoneline for hours upon end. Much to the annoyance of my mum and dad!

The speed in which online technology has evolved is incredible and it was also interesting to learn of how The Manchester Museum expanded the role that it’s website plays; shifting away from the simplistic, brochure-style to a more user-orientated experience incorporating fully-interactive features. The shift in the website’s importance to the museum is also echoed in the way its staffing structure developed during the periods discussed. It’s hard to imagine now that, for an institution the size of the MM, it’s entire web presence was originally the responsibility of just one person! 

The ‘Great Expectations’ report produced circa 1998 would be an intriging read with our technological hindsight. I also emailed Malcolm requesting a copy and will again add any relevant issues to this post. 

Chris x

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