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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.

Providing accessible online collections


Feedback from user research for the recently re-launched Metropolitan Museum of Art website made it clear that users need multiple routes into the collections. Visitors want to search across data, on multiple dimensions, and find other artworks that may interest them. To do this with the data available was a huge challenge.   Museum collections data is not necessarily structured to support this, especially in a collection as diverse as the Met’s.  In this paper we discuss the system we built to enable the Museum to analyse the data and construct rules to support these user journeys.  With this system, Museum staff match terms against standard vocabularies (including AAT and TGN), provide contextual interpretation of terms by department, qualify terms such as locations, and define rules for common misspellings.  A powerful Solr search system provides the quick and complex search functionality, establishes the relationships between artworks, provides free-text searching, and gives facet counts.


Paper - in formal session


Alex Morrison's picture
A student of mathematics, logic and philosophy with a degree from Oxford University, Alex wrote his first computer program, an online game for an IBM mainframe system, on a deck of punched cards. In the mid-1980s he became involved in knowledge engineering - the study of human expertise and the...
RachaelRainbow's picture
mattmorgan's picture
I used to run the Information Systems department at Brooklyn Museum. Then I ran my own business for a short time; now I run the Website and the department that manages it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I have interest in things like pdas and kiosks, when they are web-based, and in wireless...