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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

PhilaPlace to AnyPlace: Building a Reusable Community Platform for Mapping and Sharing History


Just as personal and collective memories imbue artifacts with significance, so it is with place. Launched in January 2010, PhilaPlace is a collaborative and interactive community-oriented Web site that connects stories to places across time throughout Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, creating an enduring record of collective heritage. Through the integration of two open source solutions—Google Maps and Collective Access collections management system – PhilaPlace supports a rich feature set that facilitates an interpretive mosaic of historical records as well as stories, photos, and video shared by ordinary people of all backgrounds.

This paper focuses on the potential of current open-source technologies, advances in GIS mapping, and increased access to archival and community-curated content to situate and visualize the history of a place in innovative ways. The PhilaPlace platform affords a rich opportunity for closer inspection and evaluation as a potentially viable model and reproducible platform for broader application within the museum and historical center world (AnyPlace).

Our evaluation focuses on an iterative design review of not only the technological design solution but also the project methodology. How might the open-source solutions and institutional partnerships for PhilaPlace inform an AnyPlace approach to mapping and interpreting place-based historical narrative for neighborhoods in other towns and cities? Do evaluation results support the use of this methodology and platform as a reusable model, and what value does such a platform bring to the audiences who engage with it? Also included in our discussion are the lessons learned in developing PhilaPlace, in particular issues of sustainability, institutional capacity, and the changing pace of technological innovation.


Paper - in formal session


mefisher's picture
Matthew Fisher is President and co-founder of the design firm Night Kitchen Interactive, where for over 12 years he has produced interactive educational programs, online exhibits, and communities-of-practice for arts, cultural heritage, and science organizations. Matthew consults with clients such...
ksajet's picture
Kim Sajet joined the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) as president and CEO in April 2007. Formerly the Senior Vice President at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Director of Corporate Development at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Ms. Sajet has over twenty years of...
mborun's picture
Minda Borun is the Director of Research and Evaluation at The Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition, as principal of Museum Solutions, she serves as a consultant on exhibit and program evaluation, planning, and staff training for numerous museums, informal...
StaceyMann's picture
Stacey has worked as an exhibit and education experience designer for over 15 years and currently serves as the Director of Learning Strategies for Night Kitchen Interactive. She holds her Masters in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University where she continues to guest lecture on exhibition...

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