Museums and the Web 1999

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Published: March 1999.


Georgia's Natural History Moves to the Web

Amy Lyn Edwards , University of Georgia, USA

Session: Demonstrations 2

Natural history museums play an increasingly important role as stewards and distributors of natural history information. In the past this was done either through formal lectures, classes, and publications, or informal tours, exhibits and outreach programs. At the University of Georgia Museum of Natural History (UGAMNH) we have discovered the value of using the web as an additional delivery mode for our programs. Adding a web component to our programs has enabled us to extend the contact hours we have with students, teachers and the public. Teachers can access our resources prior to a visit, or while preparing class materials. After a visit they and their students can submit follow up questions or feedback. We can also work with distant researchers and teachers to develop or improve our current on-line resources. Additions or changes can immediately be incorporated into the web site. The feedback we receive also allows us to assess the success of our programs. An unexpected advantage of the web site has been reaching new audiences and developing new contacts which has allowed us to expand our on-line resources.

Currently the UGAMNH is engaged in a collaborative effort with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to develop an outreach program highlighting the State's wildlife. A variety of people are involved in the project; technical writers, scientific illustrators, computer experts, biologists and photographers. The site will eventually include information on every animal that occurs in the state. The first pages concentrate on the terrestrial vertebrates (amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals). The project is still in early development, but the site is open to the public (around Jan 4, 1999).The pages include information on each species current systematics, taxonomy, distribution, biology, ecology and economic importance. The site will later be expanded to include information and links to additional resources on management, conservation issues and natural history databases.