March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Demonstrations: Description

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Recent Projects

Linda Pulliam, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA
Phil Getchell, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA

2005 was a landmark year for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston's, Web practice. We're leveraging a new platform, managing more content, and launching vast repositories of public-facing information. We welcome the opportunity to show our colleagues some of our most recent accomplishments.

Re-launched on July 1, our new site has more than just an updated look. It features many new capabilities, is positioned for further growth, and improves the overall online experience. Visitors may access far more content, and may even tailor their visit--specifying preferences for collections and events, and saving favorite artworks in their own online galleries.

We've also deployed a content-management system, trained over fifty members of our staff, and distributed administration across our wide organization. The workflow and time-to-market have been greatly streamlined, as we have effectively delegated responsibility for updating respective pages to "content owners."

With a limited budget and an accelerated timeline, there were many challenges. But, with strong executive buy-in and ambitious developers, we have made great progress in harmonizing and optimizing Web practices across the MFA. We have successfully shifted the paradigm, to facilitate growth and evolution of our online presence.

Supported by these foundational changes, the MFA has proudly developed two monumental data repositories: our specialized Giza Archives and our encyclopedic Museum collection.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, houses the world's single largest archive of archaeological materials from Giza, including 22,000 glass-plate negatives, photography registers, object registers, and diaries. Over the past several years, the MFA has determinedly digitized these resources. We've scanned high-resolution negatives, meticulously transcribed the registers and diaries, and preserved notation of the various people, objects, tombs, and monuments mentioned in these materials.

This was a formidably complex and lengthy project. The data migrated from the original form into several databases, and eventually into a robust stand-alone version of TMS (The Museum System, product of Gallery Systems). Data from this and other sources is now available on the Web at, where one can follow links between objects, tombs, and people, as well as view related scans of glass-plate negatives, diaries, registers, and more. Additionally, the new system provides collections researchers with links to our main TMS-based collections system.

At the same time, we have leveraged our new platform to boldly publish detailed information about every one of our accessioned collections objects. Our public site now features more than 325,000 artworks, complemented by nearly 150,000 images, audio, 3-D renderings, and more. Each record includes detailed provenance information, display status, and descriptive text where available. Visitors can search our database, or browse suggested groups of artworks--and, yes, they can save their favorites for their own enjoyment.

These have been a most fruitful year in the life of the MFA's Web sites. Through implementation of new systems, empowerment stakeholders, and pioneering publishing of data, we've exponentially furthered the MFA's mission to provide access to our holdings.

Demonstration: Demonstrations [Close-Up]

Keywords: Giza, Archives, TMS, MFA, eMuseum, excavation