Overview of MW98: Why you should attend MW98 Learn new skills to enhance your museum site Explore issues and controversies facing Museums and the Web Experts featured at MW98 Commercial products and services to enhance your web site Organizations supporting MW98: Online interchange regarding the virtual museum experience Juried awards to best web sites in 5 categories Overview of MW98: Why you should attend MW98 Learn new skills to enhance your museum site Explore issues and controversies facing Museums and the Web Experts featured at MW98 Commercial products and services to enhance your web site Organizations supporting MW98: Online interchange regarding the virtual museum experience Juried awards to best web sites in 5 categories
MUSEUMS AND THE WEB 1998

Overview of MW98: Why you should attend MW98 Learn new skills to enhance your museum site Explore issues and controversies facing Museums and the Web Experts featured at MW98 Commercial products and services to enhance your web site Organizations supporting MW98: Online interchange regarding the virtual museum experience Juried awards to best web sites in 5 categories

Archives & Museum Informatics

info @ archimuse.com

www.archimuse.comArchives and Museum Informatics Home Page

published April 1998
updated Nov. 2010

Papers

Visual/Human Interface for Virtual Exhibitions

Gail Rubini and Conrad Gleber

My presentation is on the development of the On Line Learning Environment (OLE), a virtual fieldtrip of The Museum of Art and the Odyssey Science Center that is available on the Internet. It was developed using interactive 3-D software and sound/video transmission technologies.

The OLE web site is a prototype and coincides with the opening of the Capital Cultural Center - in Tallahassee, Florida. The Cultural Center is the permanent home of the Odyssey Science Center and the Museum of Art and will offer visitors an interdisciplinary experience, a journey into the world of art, science, mathematics and technology in an environment created with traveling and permanent exhibits, workshops and interactive educational experiences of art. It is here science and art will behave as partners in the manifestation of human creativity. The On Line Learning Environment extends the experience of the Cultural Center's activities in an educational and entertaining way to people who cannot visit the museums.

My interest in the museum project began as an active member of the Tallahassee community who recognized a need for a museum in our city, but not as simply another box to display things in, but rather as an edifice for learning and exploring. As the building plans began to take shape, it became apparent that a web presence was going to become an intregal component of the museum. The term virtual edifice denotes at the simplest interpretation of a building that is experienced but not physically felt. It is made up of the word virtual borrowed from the technology of virtual reality, or VR. VR is a class of computer controlled multisensory communication technologies that allow more intuitive interactions with data and involve human senses interactively together. It is a tool or a strategy to experience information and thereby assist learning.... and be extremely enteraining. Edifice is the place that one enters to connect with their own culture, beliefs and myths. In a general sense it is a space defined by architecture that houses the information, knowledge and beliefs of a culture. It's role is built on its function as a symbol but it manifests much more. . Years pass in the making of structures that edify society. Museums have been such places and virtual museums on the web represent the beginning of a new edifice.

What we as educators must do is be aware of technology that can assist learning. The internet promises to be the quantum leap from present to future edifice. Even so, much of what we see as the future is still in the future. Most websites put up for the delivery of educational content are designed as a virtual type of book. Predominately linear and text driven, many web sites serve as both newsletter and catalogue for the museum. The potential for the web is its ability to deliver multi-sensory learning experiences to the viewer who may explore, define, discover and construct their own learning. The On Line Learning Environment used a multiple visual interface to quickly get the viewers interest. Each page of the site was divided into component interfaces including sound, single pictures, video and VR environments.The VR environments functioned as the roadway to other places, to other sites, or other databases. The concept behind using a VR environment is the development of "nodes" which refer to a point and click method of quickly going somewhere else. In this case, once you have entered the museum, VR environments gets you quickly to the exhibition you are interested in, gets you to see the exhibition, gets you to hear about the exhibition, specific exhibit, or interact with the exhibit and gets you to additional sites and specific educational programing.

The potential of the web is to deliver multi-sensory learning experiences to the viewer who may explore, define, discover and construct their own "exhibiton." The On Learning Environment will create a virtual Cultural Center with virtual exhibitions, interactive access to virtual exhibits and people within the Capital Cultural Center and a template for further virtual tours. Piqued by interesting 3-D environments, a visitor will have opportunities to explore exhibition areas. The programs of the Museum of Art and Odyssey Science Center will serve as an "extended exhibition" for visitors via the World Wide Web. The use of sound and video streaming will serve as both an instructor and museum guide as you go through the virtual experience. The hypertext format makes it possible to merge art and science in ways that bridge the disciplines and demonstrate the multiple connections between exhibits. Telecommunication technology will allow visitors to interact in real time with people and exhibits at the Cultural Center. The virtual exhibits can also be "linked" to applicable hands-on activities and a searchable archive of hands-on resources which can used to supplement or replace existing activities. Frequent Internet broadcasts of lecturers, demonstrations, video conferencing and interactive exhibitions will serve to extend the exhibition.

The On-Line Learning Environment is a demonstration for how cultural institutions can integrate resources by using technologies that expand their activities with minimal costs. Links to other local points of interest can include other facilities. In Tallahassee for example, it will include: The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, the FSU Super Computer Computations Research Institute, the FAMU Observatory, the FSU Planetarium, the FSU Nuclear Physics Lab and the Appleton Museum.The web site is a model to explore cultural resources and use them to anchor other activities. Interactive hands-on visual resources are suddenly available to everyone connected. The site is to be more than text linked information in the style of classical hyper text environments. We are trying to develop a true hyper media environment.

In addition the On-Line Learning Environment will create a virtual archive of exhibitions and pre- and post- visit activities to expand life beyond the one time exhibition. The virtual cultural center will improve public access of science and art exhibitions by offering interactive exhibits, workshops, demonstrations, and special events to improve the understanding of art and science. The site offers a view of the museum in the 21st century. No longer will there be one exhibition, one guide, one catalogue or even one topic at a time. The future museum will be a multi-layered and diverse environment reflective of our society. The viewer will experience the exhibition through a combination of reading, writing, seeing, hearing and feeling both at the site and virtually.The exhibiton will be a unique blend of gathering, sorting, and recreating and reflecting to create an active audience of repeat visitors.

On Line Learning Environment prototype used several technologies. These technologies, some of which can be down-loaded at no cost from a Web browser are HTML, VRML, Java-scripting, speech synthesis, and robotics control via Web pages. Most internet users have web browsers and are able to take full advantage of these standards for hyper media.

The Cultural Center's On Line Learning Environment addresses the need to find a way to keep visitors motivated and interested in the activities of the Center. The virtual exhibits will allow the patron to become familiar with the exhibitions before they arrive. The On Line Learning Environment in conjunction with the programs at the Center will be used as a guide to the exhibitions and a new exhibition to explore. It will allow the visitors to return to explore the exhibits in virtual space, share or report on the actual visit. Presenting the exhibition in different forms reinforces the exhibition. Experiencing the exhibition using different senses makes new connections and naturally expands learning through exploration. Please visit the prototype of the On Line Learning Environment at "ole.fsu.edu"


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