Museums and the Web 1999

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Published: March 1999.


Broadening Access to Native American Collections via the Internet

Maurita Peterson Holland , University of Michigan, USA
Kari Smith , University of Michigan, USA

Session: Community and Content

Museums are exploring many Web-based applications to make their collections broadly available through a catalog and description of artifacts and through digitization of individual objects. New tools permit museum users to design their own path through selected objects and to incorporate museum pieces into their own web-based publications. But what if the museum began to collect items that were not in its physical collection? What if the user-contributed input became part of the museum's virtual collection? Native American materials are widely distributed in private collections and public museums, both in Native controlled or reservation museums and cultural centers and in non-Native facilities. Based on our experience with Navajo artifacts, we've developed a virtual museum prototype that incorporates objects from diverse sources. We will discuss a model that encourages museums to consider the role of ethnic communities, incorporation of multi-generational voices, and local or tribal member input into exhibit and collection development. During our presentation we will reference other projects that are dealing with issues of standardization and multi-institutional collaboration that will further inform future projects.


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