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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Collection X

Art Gallery of Ontario
Second Story Interactive Studios (

In April 2007 the Art Gallery of Ontario launched Collection X, an innovative online initiative designed to challenge how museums amass, exhibit and interpret their collections and to engage increasingly diverse audiences through the use of social media.Collection X provides users with multiple points of entry and levels of engagement that range from the quick and straightforward to the more intense and in-depth. Within Collection X users can do the following:- Search and browse images, videos and audio clips- Contribute content in the form of images, video and audio- Create exhibitions using public collections and collections contributed by the public- Connect exhibitions together around themes, issues or ideas to create connections- Use tags to describe and identify all levels of content- Share thoughts and engage in dialogue through comments and e-mail exchanges- Subscribe to RSS feeds and podcasts to track new contentRSS feeds are integral to the design of Collection X and provide a way for users to keep connected to content that is constantly changing. This was a conscious decision based on the fact that time is short and people need tools to help them sort through the vast amount of content that exists on the Internet. It also helps to address the issue of motivation by delivering prompts to users who are subscribers when the content changes. Within Collection X RSS feeds give users the ability to subscribe to any thread of content on the site—tags, exhibitions, searches, collections, user profiles—and to receive live updates using an RSS reader. The integration of RSS feeds also means that new content can be distributed and accessed through a variety of platforms and content personalization applications.For the AGO Collection X represents a major leap forward in terms of program development and delivery on two fronts: (1) it provides an opportunity to activate public collections by making them available in new and interesting ways and (2) it makes it possible for the public at large to upload their own collections and create virtual exhibitions using the same application. In this way Collection X functions as an “open-source museum” that enables users to emulate museum practices while, at the same time, drawing upon a mix of content taken from public collections as well as from collections created by the public.

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