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

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License

Peabody Museum of Harvard University Collections Online
Kara Lewis, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, USA

Demonstration: Your Colleagues - 1

The Peabody Museum of Harvard University is currently undertaking a three-year general inventory project that will document and verify nearly 100% of our ethnographic and archaeological collections. Eight digital 6.1 megabyte cameras are used full-time by the inventory crews. As of this writing in December 2002, there are 75,000 digital images in the museum?s collections database. This ongoing project generates between 1000-2000 images a week, and by its end, this project will generate over 150,000 images. Additionally, there are several other ongoing digitization projects at the museum.

We are also currently developing a web site to enable the public and our staff to easily access the digital images of our collections and its associated information. This project is presently in the alpha stage; most of the programming is complete, and within weeks we will begin beta testing within the museum. It is hoped the site will go live by January 31st.

The first version of the website will premiere with 70,000 images from our collection; more will be uploaded monthly. There are several features to this site: users can do a simple search or browse a predetermined list, and advanced users will have the ability to do more complicated searches. All records will have both a thumbnail and a larger image. The pages are programmed in ColdFusion that access a database separate from our collections database. Only a subset of our fields are transferred into the website database, which was the easiest way to deal with any security concerns.

The Peabody curators will also be using a restricted part of this website to consult with three groups of Native people for purposes of the Native American Graves Repatriation and Protection Act: Aleut, Alutiiq, and Tlingit. Through this site, participants will be able to share information about sacred items, cultural affiliation, and recommendations for care. This will result in enhanced documentation of the collections and visits by the groups to the museum.

I would like to demonstrate the online collections website, and talk about the process that we went through to define, design, and develop the site. This would include flowcharts, screenshots of prototypes, and functional specifications.