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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:
November 7, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License

Voices of the Colorado Plateau: Multimedia Exhibits Highlight Cooperative Museum Project
Matthew Nickerson, Southern Utah University, USA

Demonstration: Your Colleagues - 1

Voices of the Colorado Plateau is an online museum exhibit featuring web-based multimedia presentations uniting oral history with historical images to portray the complex history of the Colorado Plateau. This unique project integrates materials from eight different institutions in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in an exciting cooperative venture that is erasing borders, shrinking distances and improving access.

This exciting cooperative effort is permitting geographically isolated regional libraries and museums to work together synergistically to ?tell a greater story.? The exhibit focuses on rich online content made possible through optimal use of Internet connectivity. Voices combines interesting and valuable artifacts from multiple collections into a single virtual exhibit that would not be feasible in a ?bricks and mortar? environment.. Smaller institutions in the consortium benefit from the technological expertise of the larger partners while their small unique collections serve to strengthen the overall exhibit. Major goals of the project were to:

* Provide enriching, educational exhibits on the popular Colorado Plateau region to a world-wide audience.

* Expand access to the cultural heritage collections of five regional museums and three university libraries by creating an online multimedia exhibit.

* Establish efficient systems for 1) distributing audio artifacts in virtual museums and 2) collecting and integrating a variety of museum/archive artifacts in various formats from several institutions.

* Establish a collaborative environment where a consortium of institutions can work together sharing materials and expertise to provide online exhibits.

This paper will report on three important aspects of the project: multimedia technology, cooperation, and evaluation.

Multimedia: The online exhibits were created using Macromedia Flash 5.0 ?. enabled programmers to tweak the exhibit to better reach the program goals. SThis powerful multimedia tool allowed designers to create a rich interactive environment that highlights the human history captured in oral history and historic photographs.

Cooperation: The partnering institutions, spread over a three state region, are separated by some of the wildest and most remote country in the U.S. Telecommunication and computer technologies were vital in keeping the partners in touch and informed. The consortium stayed connected through a variety of ways including: face-to-face meetings, e-mail, conference calls, video conferencing, ftp and s-mail.

Evaluation: Data from online surveys and server logs helped the consortium better understand their project and its patrons. Server logs are getting more and more powerful. Beyond counting ?hits? there is a wealth of information hidden in server data that merits more research into what these data can reveal about online cultural heritage sights and the patrons that visit them.