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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Cannery Life: Del Monte in the Santa Clara Valley

History San Jose (Sponsor: KB Homes)
In-House; Melissa Johnson (Curator of Interactive Media)

The 'Cannery Life' exhibition was created as part of the historic mitigation necessary for KB Homes to develop the area formerly occupied by Del Monte Plant #3, a historically important structure in San Jose. Before the destruction of the building, History San Jose was invited to collect materials and conduct walkthroughs and oral history interviews with former Del Monte employees. The 'Cannery Life' web exhibit sprang from these sources, as well as research performed at the History San Jose Research Library. It is a thoughtful, well-developed exhibition that reaches out to the diverse audiences of the Santa Clara Valley. The exhibit is vibrant with images, video, and a searchable catalog of relevant objects in the museum's collection. It perfectly entwines the goals of historic mitigation and the mission of History San Jose by preserving the stories of the Del Monte company and employees as a vital part of the agricultural history of the Santa Clara Valley, and by actively reaching out to a diverse and underserved audience in a dynamic format that is much more accessible and permanent than a physical exhibition. The use of the web exhibit as part of historic mitigation is innovative and should inform future endeavors. In addition, it must be considered that this exhibit was created by a small team of two curators and one web developer at an institution where resources are stretched extremely thin. The incredible achievement that 'Cannery Life' represents in web exhibit design and innovation should not be overlooked.

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