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You are hereImpact of Museum Websites - a comparison using Alexa

Impact of Museum Websites - a comparison using Alexa


NOTE: This was an experiment, meant to test the method, not to produce a citable result. Read the comments.

The other day I was musing about what impact museums are having on the Web and who is 'punching above their weight'?  I began to ask how would we know, and it occured to me to check the relative Alexa rankings of museums (http://www.alexa.com/). This produced a few possible answers and lots of surprises, so I systematically looked through the rankings to find the (c. 200) 'museums' that ranked, by traffic, in the top 500,000 web sites worldwide. I included www.archimuse.com for comparison and amusement (which, if it was a museums, would have ranked 99 among museums).

I'm sure everyoe will have their own favorite 'outlier' to ponder here. I was struck by the number of 'virtual' or 'non-museums' in the top 35 - it shows that real museums will have significant competition online if what museums are offering is perceived to be no different from what a virtual museum offers.

Rank
within
'museums'
Institution domain rank in Alexa 28/05/09 note
1 Smithsonian Institution http://www.si.edu 6,828  
2 Metropolitan Museum of Art http://www.metmuseum.org 18,498  
3 Nobel e-Museum http://www.nobelprize.org 18,593  
4 Музеи России http://www.museum.ru 22,341  
5 Newseum http://www.newseum.org 22,358  
6 The Saatchi Gallery http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk 23,974 virtual gallery
7 Museum of Modern Art http://www.moma.org 25,850  
8 The Exploratorium http://www.exploratorium.edu 25,922  
9 Tate Gallery http://www.tate.org.uk 28,616  
10 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum http://www.ushmm.org 30,113  
11 American Museum of Natural History http://www.amnh.org 38,624  
12 The Franklin Institute Science Museum http://www.fi.edu 39,373  
13 Musee du Louvre http://www.louvre.fr 40,883  
14 Deutsches Historisches Museum http://www.dhm.de 42,696  
15 Natural History Museum (UK) http://www.nhm.ac.uk 47,154  
16 Olga's Gallery http://www.abcgallery.com 50,023 virtual gallery
17 Victoria and Albert Museum http://www.vam.ac.uk 50,501  
18 The Getty http://www.getty.edu 50,517  
19 National Gallery of Art http://www.nga.gov 50,636  
20 California Academy of Sciences http://www.calacademy.org 53,791  
21 Madame Tussauds International http://www.madametussauds.com 55,989  
22 The British Museum http://www.britishmuseum.org 61,200  
23 Ellis Island Foundation http://www.ellisisland.org 64,901  
24 Science Museum http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk 68,986  
25 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame http://www.rockhall.com 70,002  
26 ARC International - The Art Renewal Center http://www.artrenewal.org 77,280 virtual gallery
27 Rhizome http://www.rhizome.org 78,506 virtual gallery
28 The Video Game Museum http://www.vgmuseum.com 79,648 virtual gallery
29 The Art Institute of Chicago - Illinois http://www.artic.edu 80,893  
30 Powerhouse Museum http://www.powerhousemuseum.com 83,246  
31 Museum of Science http://www.mos.org 90,954  
32 The National Gallery http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk 94,233  
33 The Vincent van Gogh Gallery http://www.vangoghgallery.com 95,312 virtual gallery
34 Los Angeles County Museum of Art http://www.lacma.org 100,631  
35 Colonial Williamsburg Foundation History http://www.history.org 102,320  
36 The Field Museum http://www.fieldmuseum.org 104,805  
37 The National Maritime Museum http://www.nmm.ac.uk 105,660  
38 The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia http://www.hermitagemuseum.org 106,181  
39 Guggenheim Museum http://www.guggenheim.org 106,897  
40 Bauhaus Archiv - Museum für Gestaltung http://www.bauhaus.de 106,941  
41 Wisconsin Historical Society http://www.wisconsinhistory.org 108,386  
42 Museum of Science and Industry http://www.msichicago.org 111,632  
43 FAMSF-Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco http://www.famsf.org 111,764  
44 The Virtual Museum of Canada http://www.virtualmuseum.ca 112,066 portal
45 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art http://www.sfmoma.org 112,109  
46 Brooklyn Museum of Art http://www.brooklynmuseum.org 119,273  
47 Design Museum http://www.designmuseum.org 120,968  
48 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston http://www.mfa.org 121,979  
49 Computer History Museum http://www.computerhistory.org 124,702  
50 Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (MNHN) http://www.mnhn.fr 125,354  
51 The Australian Museum http://www.austmus.gov.au 126,047  
52 Musée d Orsay http://www.musee-orsay.fr 130,383  
53 The Tech Museum of Innovation http://www.thetech.org 134,351  
54 Australian War Memorial http://www.awm.gov.au 136,605  
55 Science Museum of Minnesota http://www.smm.org 140,369  
56 Rijksmuseum Amsterdam http://www.rijksmuseum.nl 140,738  
57 National Museums Liverpool http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk 140,816  
58 Chicago Historical Society http://www.chicagohs.org 141,336  
59 Museum Victoria http://www.museumvictoria.com.au 141,760  
60 Walker Art Center http://www.walkerart.org 142,886  
61 Canadian Museum of Civilization http://www.civilization.ca 146,638  
62 Imperial War Museum http://www.iwm.org.uk 147,951  
63 San Diego Natural History Museum http://www.sdnhm.org 151,719  
64 Indianapolis Museum of Art http://www.imamuseum.org 154,660  
65 Minnesota Historical Society http://www.mnhs.org 157,672  
66 Réunion des musées nationaux http://www.rmn.fr 159,565  
67 Philadelphia Museum of Art http://www.philamuseum.org 162,020  
68 Hellenic Ministry of Culture http://www.culture.gr 162,637  
69 Shedd Aquarium http://www.sheddaquarium.org 164,570  
70 The Legacy http://www.thelegacy.de 165,287 virtual - games museum
71 culture24.org.uk http://www.culture24.org.uk 169,424 portal
72 The Minneapolis Institute of Arts http://www.artsmia.org 173,866  
73 ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Project Blog http://www.animationarchive.org 175,887  
74 Deutsches Museum http://www.deutsches-museum.de 182,185  
75 Museo Thyssen http://www.museothyssen.org 182,751  
76 Denver Museum of Nature and Science http://www.dmns.org 185,699  
77 Ohio Historical Society http://www.ohiohistory.org 186,755  
78 Staatliche Museen zu Berlin http://www.smb.museum 190,897  
79 Van Gogh Museum http://www.vangoghmuseum.nl 195,992  
80 Canadian Museum of Nature http://www.nature.ca 196,947  
81 The Academy of Natural Sciences http://www.acnatsci.org 197,722  
82 Whitney Museum of American Art http://www.whitney.org 197,798  
83 Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County http://www.nhm.org 198,159  
84 Royal Ontario Museum http://www.rom.on.ca 201,765  
85 International Center of Photography http://www.icp.org 202,820  
86 Balboa Park http://www.balboapark.org 203,363 portal
87 Dallas Museum of Art http://www.dallasmuseumofart.org 207,633  
88 Institute and Museum of History of Science http://www.imss.fi.it 207,680  
89 Houston Museum of Natural History. http://www.hmns.org 209,532  
90 National Gallery of Canada http://www.gallery.ca 218,040  
91 The Children's Museum of Indianapolis http://www.childrensmuseum.org 225,215  
92 Royal Academy of Arts http://www.royalacademy.org.uk 226,449  
93 Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution http://www.cooperhewitt.org 235,672  
94 Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand http://www.tepapa.govt.nz 241,559  
95 Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum http://www.desertmuseum.org 244,552  
96 Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna http://www.khm.at 244,559  
97 Atlanta's High Museum of Art http://www.high.org 247,372  
98 Pacific Science Center http://www.pacsci.org 249,442  
99 Archives & Museum Informatics http://www.archimuse.com 250,647 ;) not a museum
100 Museum of London http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk 251,021  
101 The Detroit Institute of Arts http://www.dia.org 251,486  
102 Hanf Museum Berlin http://www.hanfmuseum.de 255,049  
103 National Galleries of Scotland http://www.nationalgalleries.org 256,773  
104 The International Museum of Women http://www.imow.org 259,913  
105 Museen in Köln http://www.museenkoeln.de 267,427  
106 Oregon Museum of Science and Industry http://www.omsi.edu 269,268  
107 Ontario Science Centre http://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca 270,896  
108 The Carnegie Museum of Natural History http://www.carnegiemnh.org 273,940  
109 The Henry Ford http://www.thehenryford.org 278,058  
110 Art Gallery of Ontario http://www.ago.net 279,450  
111 National Museum of Australia http://www.nma.gov.au 283,890  
112 New Museum of Contemporary Art http://www.newmuseum.org 286,339  
113 Discovery Science Center http://www.discoverycube.org 289,916  
114 Museumofsex.com http://www.museumofsex.com 291,396  
115 International Spy Museum http://www.spymuseum.org 293,024  
116 Museum of Contemporary Art - Los Angeles http://www.moca.org 297,070  
117 Mystic Seaport - The Museum of America and the Sea http://www.mysticseaport.org 297,231  
118 Milwaukee Public Museum http://www.mpm.edu 304,443  
119 The Henry Ford http://www.hfmgv.org 308,335  
120 technomuses.ca http://www.technomuses.ca 309,661  
121 Miami Museum of Science & Planetarium http://www.miamisci.org 313,458  
122 Adler http://www.adlerplanetarium.org 315,406  
123 Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center http://www.historyisfun.org 325,786  
124 Seattle Art Museum http://www.seattleartmuseum.org 325,983  
125 McCord Museum http://www.mccord-museum.qc.ca 329,057  
126 Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal http://www.mbam.qc.ca 329,712  
127 The Museum of Bad Art http://www.museumofbadart.org 330,548 virtual museum
128 Aviation History On-Line Museum http://www.aviation-history.com 335,199 virtual museum
129 Creationmuseum http://www.creationmuseum.org 336,551  
130 The Andy Warhol Museum http://www.warhol.org 336,648  
131 MuseumsQuartier http://www.mqw.at 337,995 portal
132 Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies http://www.smithsonianeducation.org 338,492  
133 virtualshoemuseum.com http://www.virtualshoemuseum.com 342,061 virtual museum
134 The State Russian Museum http://www.rusmuseum.ru 343,868  
135 Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum http://www.intrepidmuseum.org 347,449  
136 California Science Center http://www.californiasciencecenter.org 347,755  
137 WebMuseen http://www.webmuseen.de 349,334  
138 Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia http://www.museoreinasofia.es 349,513  
139 Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago http://www.mcachicago.org 349,701  
140 ArtScene http://www.artscenecal.com 350,891 portal
141 The Lowry http://www.thelowry.com 351,172  
142 Simon Wiesenthal Center http://www.wiesenthal.com 352,935  
143 Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum http://www.countrymusichalloffame.com 363,149  
144 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston http://www.mfah.org 365,148  
145 Cleveland Museum of Natural History http://www.cmnh.org 366,030  
146 Experience Music Project | Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame http://www.empsfm.org 373,185  
147 National Media Museum http://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk 373,861  
148 carnegiemuseums.org http://www.carnegiemuseums.org 376,494  
149 North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences http://www.naturalsciences.org 376,690  
150 The Institute of Contemporary Art http://www.icaboston.org 380,974  
151 Museum of the City of San Francisco http://www.sfmuseum.org 381,318  
152 Cranbrook http://www.cranbrook.edu 381,557  
153 Albright-Knox Art Gallery http://www.albrightknox.org 384,616  
154 TryScience.org http://www.tryscience.org 385,536 portal
155 COSI http://www.cosi.org 388,795  
156 Salvador Dali Museum http://www.salvadordalimuseum.org 390,120  
157 Ackland Art Museum http://www.ackland.org 391,081  
158 Please Touch Museum http://www.pleasetouchmuseum.org 392,849  
159 Denver Art Museum http://www.denverartmuseum.org 394,487  
160 Oakland Museum of California http://www.museumca.org 397,334  
161 Tesla Memorial Society of New York http://www.teslasociety.com 398,162  
162 Liberty Science Center http://www.lsc.org 399,773  
163 San Diego Historical Society http://www.sandiegohistory.org 400,617  
164 Lawrence Hall of Science http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org 408,040  
165 Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco http://www.thecjm.org 409,584  
166 Museum of Science and Industry http://www.mosi.org 413,125  
167 George Eastman House http://www.eastmanhouse.org 419,882  
168 Asian Art Museum of San Francisco http://www.asianart.org 422,212  
169 Glasgow Museums http://www.glasgowmuseums.com 422,375  
170 Smithsonian Institution http://www.smithsonian.org 426,736  
171 Page Museum - La Brea Tar Pits http://www.tarpits.org 428,363  
172 The Alamo http://www.thealamo.org 428,666  
173 The Egyptian Museum http://www.egyptianmuseum.gov.eg 430,874  
174 Polo Fiorentino Museale http://www.polomuseale.firenze.it 432,688  
175 Questacon http://www.questacon.edu.au 433,446  
176 The National Museum of Denmark http://www.natmus.dk 433,954  
177 Museum of Flight http://www.museumofflight.org 442,223  
178 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum http://www.gardnermuseum.org 445,031  
179 Fundación Juan March http://www.march.es 448,826  
180 Cleveland Museum of Art http://www.clemusart.com 450,003  
181 Children's Museum of Virginia http://www.childrensmuseumva.com 454,777  
182 The Jewish Museum http://www.thejewishmuseum.org 455,337  
183 Lower East Side Tenement Museum http://www.tenement.org 455,381  
184 Cincinnati Museum of Natural History http://www.cincymuseum.org 456,403  
185 Museum of the City of New York http://www.mcny.org 461,801  
186 Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library http://www.winterthur.org 466,037  
187 Arizona Science Center http://www.azscience.org 466,282  
188 Cold War Museum http://www.coldwar.org 474,399 virtual museum
189 Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum http://www.thestoryoftexas.com 478,052  
190 Boston Children's Museum http://www.bostonkids.org 478,101  
191 San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum http://www.midway.org 485,330  
192 Kentucky Horse Park http://www.imh.org 485,815  
193 Deutsche Museen http://www.deutsche-museen.de 486,061  
194 Fernbank Museum of Natural History http://www.fernbankmuseum.org 486,545  
195 museum-brandhorst.de http://www.museum-brandhorst.de 490,537  
196 Tank Museum http://www.tankmuseum.ru 492,984  
197 The National Museums and Galleries of Wales http://www.museumwales.ac.uk 493,069  
198 National Museums of Scotland http://www.nms.ac.uk 498,166  
rmiller@alphabetadesign.com's picture

I did want to add my thanks to dbear for the thought and work on this exercise, one where more understanding is needed--the relationship between real and virtual museum experiences.

Rohn Jay Miller Managing Partner AlphaBeta LLC 1801 Dupont Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55403 +1 (612) 749-0803 www.take5interactive.com rmiller@alphabetadesign.com

Shelley Bernstein's picture

Scrappy Doo, here...
I have to say I think it's pretty irresponsible to publish a list like this without looking at more data and making sure that questions about the validity are in the post itself, not the comments. You should be listening more carefully to your own presenters - people like Seb Chan - who will always caution you to look at all sides of an issue before throwing data out there.
First, using Alexa for traffic ratings and not cross-comparing with Google as a second source is problematic (or any second source, for that matter). You also need to note (or at least link to) the pros/cons of grabbing stats this way. Alexa is notorious for being off the mark, Google too - that's why you should at least look at more sources or at the very least explain this. Frankly, Frankie Roberto probably has better data on the sites he's been working with because he's going to source and perhaps you could have used his data to at least provide a baseline as to how accurate these figures are, but I digress. Let's just say there's a lot to be desired here.
Second, yes, you do need to look at physical visitor stats to cross compare. It's another metric that needs to be factored in and there will often be a direct correlation. A institution that has a popular exhibition schedule one year will dramatically change their site traffic.
Third and most importantly, you need to look at how many pages a site is offering. A site with fewer pages is going to wildly impact these ratings just because there less out there to find. Take the Powerhouse, for example, which has over 72,000 object records online. I love the fact that there is no explanation that si.edu consists of something like 14 museums under one domain. On the other hand a site with far less (New Museum) content can get you thinking even more. Had you done some type of analysis about what sites are offering, it could give you all kinds of interesting information to better explain the metrics.
All that said, I'm a proud mama to be at #46, but I expect more thorough consideration out you guys, darnit!

dbear's picture

Dear Shelley,

My point in posting is to generate discussion, not to promote Alexa or any other source of data. From my perspective, what is interesting is not to compare data sources - none of which give a 'true' picture - but to look at what any source can tell us with intra-source comparisons. Those of you in a specific museum will, of course, want to look more in depth at all the sources that together can tell you something about your own institution, including in house logs and door counts and post-visit surveys. For both these purposes, I'm quite happy that the posting is bringing out issues with data and what can best be done with different sources.

David Bearman

David Bearman

Shelley Bernstein's picture

David,

Sorry, but I don't buy it. I think you could have a done a lot more to educate your audience here and instead took a shortcut. You could have easily put in some gotchas/pros/cons in the body of the text and still generated plenty of discussion. The fact that you didn't is disappointing.

rmiller@alphabetadesign.com's picture

I'm Strategic Director for IconNicholson, an interactive design firm in NYC that has worked with the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chicago Humanities Festival and other cultural non-profits. Our work is grounded in research, including Website metrics. I appreciate the effort you've gone to here---and the point you make about virtual museums standing on relatively equal footing with real-world institutions is an interesting one.
I do want to point out that Alexa, a free source of Website metrics, is not considered to be a particularly reliable source. They collect information from a group of users who have agreed to install the Alexa tool bar on their browser (or have had it installed with other software) There can be a wide disparity between the behavior of this small sample group and the actual Internet population, especially given the large amount of traffic generated outside of the United States for major cultural institutions such as the Louvre or the National Gallery of Art.
For example, I work with a large corporate client here in the United States. Alexa says they receive around 100,000 unique visitors a month. I know from viewing the actual server logs that number understates the actually traffic by around 250,000 unique visitors--a factor of 3.5 times.
Compete.com is a similar free resource of Internet metrics, but is in my opinion more reliable because they also receive anonymous information from Internet service providers (ISPs) from their servers. Compete.com lists the National Gallery of Art (www.nga.gov) as the 14,690th most popular Website on the Internet, vs. Alexa.com estimate that it is the 50,030th.
These free metrics sites drastically understate the amount of traffic coming from schools, universities, and from outside the United States which are all large sources of traffic for cultural institutions.
Please excuse my going on about this point, which stands beside your point about virtual vs. real-world institutions. But I have more than 20 years of leading strategic planning for Websites and Internet strategy, and I know from working with my clients that this list is going to get forwarded on to colleagues, board members and management. I would not represent this information as accurate even as relative estimates of traffic. The methodology behind these metrics makes it likely that errors vs. actual traffic are so significant as to make the traffic estimates meaningless.
Other than saying there is a general likelihood this is a list of the top 50 museums online (give or take 10 or so) you can't say much about its accuracy.
Comscore and Neilsen are the only two companies that gather balanced and statistically significant samples of Internet traffic, and unfortunately subscriptions to their data cost more than $25,000 per year.
If anyone wants to discuss the research methods of any of these firms, or about Website metrics in general, please feel free to contact me at rohn@millerusa.com and I'd be glad to engage further.
Thanks for an otherwise thoughtful exercise and post. I'll say that in our work we regularly survey the landscape of cultural non-profits on the Internet and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has always stood out as one art museum that engages online visitors in a wide range of new ideas on their Website. As many of you know the museum itself is undergoing extensive renovation until 2013, which makes the Website at times the only "place" where the museum exists.
Cheers-RJ

Rohn Jay Miller Managing Partner AlphaBeta LLC 1801 Dupont Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55403 +1 (612) 749-0803 www.take5interactive.com rmiller@alphabetadesign.com

jtrant's picture

Hi Rohn,

we realise that all sources of Web traffic data are prone to biases -- and that traffic itself isn't a very good measure of success for museum Web sites. [there have been many papers at MW about this subject; try a site search on analytics for example.]

this was quick probe using a publicly accessible source that we felt useful enough to share. it probably should be repeated using other sources and the results compared to see how different they are.

the 'list' is interesting to me, not for its actual numbers, but for the relative positioning of institutions on it, and for the comparisons it makes possible with other rankings.

AND for the comments it elicits about methods and sources.

thanks for your input.

jennifer

j. trant archives & museum informatics www.archimuse.com

j. trant co-founder Museums and the Web | partner archives & museum informatics www.archimuse.com

dbear's picture

The 'rank' comparison could be useful even if the experience of visiting in person and online are very different. After all, rank is about degree of recognition. Nevertheless, I'd agree that we ought to look more to comparisons within the online experience or within the in-person experience.

What does it mean, for instance, that the Newseum online visits average 3.2 minutes while the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art average 2.6 minutes? Those are statistically highly meaningful differences. Are the three institutions attempting to create different kinds of user experiences?

Similarly, it is interesting (and surprising) that the Newseum gets 46% of its visitors from the USA while the Smithsonian gets 63% and the Met draws 61% Americans. Why is the Newseum drawing so much of an international audience when the two premier institutions are seemingly parochial? What does it mean that MOMA has 52% American visitors (or, I ask, that archimuse.com has less than 37% US based visitors)?

Exploring comparisons within the online visit will probably prove fruitful.

David Bearman

David Bearman

jtrant's picture

i thought i'd try and probe my own question about how web visitation relates to on-site visitation, one that was prompted by the Art Newspaper / Economist statistics for the most visited museums in 2008.

Here's how they compare.

Museum Approximate Number of Visitors (estimate from bar graph)
Rank in Visitors
Rank in Alexa 'museums'
Louvre, Paris  ~8.5 m  1  13
British Museum, London  ~5.9 m  2  22
National Gallery of Art, Washington  ~5.0 m  3  19
Tate Modern, London ~5.0 m  4  9 [all Tate]
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York  ~4.8 m  5  2
Vatican Museums, Rome  ~4.3 m  6 [not present]*
National Gallery, London ~4.2 m  7  32
Musée d'Orsay, Paris ~3.0 m  8  52
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris ~2.9m  9  [not present]
Museum of Modern Art, New York  ~2.8m  10  7
Prado Museum, Madrid  ~2.6m  11  [not present]
Centre Pompidou, Paris  ~2.6m  12  [not present]
National Art Centre, Tokyo  ~2.4m  13  [not present]
State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg ~2.3m  14  38
National Palace Museum, Taipei ~2.2m  15  [not present]
Tokyo National Museum ~2.1m  16 [not present]
Victoria and Albert Museum ~2.1m  17  17
de Young Museum, San Francisco ~1.9m  18  [not present]
43 thanks Perian
National Portrait Gallery, London ~1.8m  19  [not present]
Reina Sofia, Madrid ~1.8m  20  138

* not present = not in top 500,000 web sites worldwide listed above

 

nine of the top 20 most visited museums don't show up in David's list above. curiously, one – the V&A – has the same ranking in both lists.

there certainly do seem to be some institutions having a far greater impact online.

/jt

 

j. trant archives & museum informatics www.archimuse.com

j. trant co-founder Museums and the Web | partner archives & museum informatics www.archimuse.com

jtrant's picture

thanks Perian for spotting the de Young  / Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco correspondence that i missed. [it bothered me a bit that 'the thinker' wasn't there. but i'd forgotten the other name!]

correction / update coming shortly.

/jt

 

j. trant archives & museum informatics www.archimuse.com

j. trant co-founder Museums and the Web | partner archives & museum informatics www.archimuse.com

dbear's picture

So this list also reveals something we know - that the Internet is language skewed. It isn't an absolute of course - the Russian museums site came up #4 and some French language museums do appear in my list, but clearly the English language institutions do better in Web data.

David Bearman

David Bearman

dbear's picture

Thankfully I didn't have to look through 500,000 sites - only about 1000. I did a search for 'museums' in Alexa setting the limit at those ranked 1 to  1M. Then I eliminated from that list those that are returned by the term museum but aren't museums (search engines, wikipedia, commercial sites, etc.) and I constructed this list with those ranked up to 500,000.

The method has quite a few problems that I know of.

First, as you will find if you replicate it or search any one of these museums, the rank is a rolling three month average so it changes daily - not much but some, and there are definitely those going up and down in the ranks. More importantly, Alexa data are based on what Alexa can track, and thus are different from other measures such as Google search rank etc.

Second, the term 'museum' searched in Alexa excludes some organizatiuons that ICOM would consider museums, such as some 'sports halls of fame 'and 'zoos' that would have been in the top 500,000. For example, I found (on 09/06/09) using 'hall of fame':       
National Baseball Hall of Fame    http://www.baseballhalloffame.org    156,844
Pro Football Hall of Fame    http://www.profootballhof.com      181,150

and using 'zoo' :      
San Diego Zoo    http://www.sandiegozoo.org    32,597
Zoologischer Garten Berlin    http://www.zoo-berlin.de    202,003
Woodland Park Zoo    http://www.zoo.org    215,784

The third issue is that there are lots of associated statistics in Alexa that are more meaningful - length of visit for example, that are ignored here.

But in a gross way the data are still intriguing, and I ithink museum web staff will look deeper into the data on their own. It is one way of discovering whether the changes we make to our sites are having an impact. 

David

David Bearman