Week 4: the changing role of a museum website

Hi everyone,

Well I can’t believe it is already the end of week 5, so I thought it was about time (sorry for the delay) I posted my thoughts on last weeks lecture, kindly given to us by Malcolm Chapman, on the changing role of the museum website. What first struck me, when he showed us the brochure style screen shots of the website in 1994, was how incredibly fast technology has changed both in terms of its use in the museum and in our attitudes towards it in everyday life. Only 5 years ago the internet was something I used perhaps once a week, now I couldn’t imagine my life without it and can be checking e-mails, twitter (strangely addictive) and facebook etc. a couple of times a day. This confirms in my mind, how vital it is that museums find ways to incorporate this important part of our lives with the museum experience.

I had never really thought about how much, when developing a website, the museum has to consider the audience, right down to the more user friendly terms for the different departments, such as money, life galleries etc. So I was particularly interested in what Malcolm said about using already established social media, such as twitter, facebook and youtube. As well as attracting new audiences online, do people think this can also impact the onsite space? Perhaps by viewing the museum on their own terms with a medium many are very familiar with, it can help to break down this still persistent idea that museums are an elitist, uncomfortable and formal spaces and ‘not for me’, especially within the 14-18 category.

In terms of the relationship between onsite and online space the last thing I found particularly interesting were his thoughts on gallery interactives especially those at the Te Papa museum in New Zealand. I thought the interactive map was fascinating, given our group project, but he said that this type of display wouldn’t be available in Europe, due to funding and resources, for quite a while. Considering the speed technology is working compared to the shelf life of a permanent exhibition that can remain the same for over 10 years, he suggested we should focus on the online experience but surely there needs to be a balance between the two? I would be interested to read his plans for the future in his developing web strategy, he was talking about. Anyway that is it for my first ever blog,

See you in London,

Louisa

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