Museums and the Web

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

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Canada and the First World War


Conference: 
MW2009
Institution: 
Canadian War Museum
Designer: 
Developed in-house, with the construction assistance of web firm, Idéeclic
Why: 

Canada and the First World War is the largest internet resource ever developed by the Canadian War Museum.  The goal of this site is to provide visitors across the country and around the world with the most comprehensive and authoritative site for the history of Canada and Canadians in the First World War. 

Like our permanent galleries, the site’s goal was to tell the story of Canada’s role in the First World War at the international, national, and personal levels.  While the CWM’s collection dictated, to some degree, the extent of the storyline, this will be an important site for researchers, students, and the interested public. 

Based on the latest scholarship in Canada and internationally, 122 short essays were prepared for each of the thematic sections. These essays provide the context – and significant content – for the artifacts that form the core of the site, and the visitor’s experience. Each of the 725 artifacts has a detailed caption, with the aim of explaining the relevance of the artifact in relation to the larger thematic grouping, and as a starting point for further exploration into the site’s content.  The site also allows access to over 6,800 of the newly-digitized official Canadian Expeditionary Force photographs held in the museum’s Military History Research Centre. 

With cross-linked essays and intuitive searching, both through thematic, free-text and artifact groupings, visitors have multiple entry points to delve deeply into the stories of Canada and the First World War. 

One of the most important considerations in building the site was accessibility. To ensure that the historical content and artifacts are easy to find and explore, the site’s design and navigation were kept clear, conventional, and consistent. The Web site also offers a level of access that is not easily obtained in the Museum or elsewhere. A zoom tool allows Web visitors to magnify every artifact and explore details that would otherwise be lost. From the engravings on badges to the texture of uniforms and the personal messages scratched onto souvenirs, each artefact can be explored to an unparalleled level of detail.

The Web site is also intended for students and teachers of Canada’s involvement in the First World War; as such, it is complemented with a dedicated section for educators. There are lesson plans and primary source material packages meant to assist teachers in bringing an additional layer of richness to their units of study. The recommended books and links lists will be of service to students and teachers alike.

Encompassing roughly 925 web pages (per language, as it is available in both English and French) the module took 17 months to complete, and would eventually require the professional input of nearly every Museum staff member.

Easily navigable and rich in content, we invite you to explore Canada’s role in the First World War.

Nominated By: 
Year: 
2009