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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Exploring the Early Americas: The Jay I. Kislak Collection


Conference: 
MW2008
Institution: 
The Library of Congress
Designer: 
In-houseSecond Story Interactive StudiosSchematic
Why: 

The Exploring the Early Americas exhibition features selections from the more than 3,000 rare maps, documents, paintings, prints, and artifacts that make up the Jay I. Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress. It provides insight into indigenous cultures, the drama of the encounters between Native Americans and European explorers and settlers, and the pivotal changes caused by the meeting of the American and European worlds. The exhibition includes two extraordinary maps by Martin Waldseem?ller created in 1507 and 1516, which depict a world enlarged by the presence of the Western Hemisphere.Mirroring the offerings of the on-site experience, the on-line exhibition provides access to a selection of objects organized by the exhibition?s three major themes: Pre-Contact America; Explorations and Encounters; and Aftermath of the Encounter. Images, curatorial information, and descriptive text for each object are provided on the web site. Taking its cues from the hi-tech exhibition which offers nine touch-screen kiosks where users can learn directly from the artifacts, books, documents, paintings, and maps on display, the web site offers video of curators and three interactive presentations including:? Reading Pre-Columbian Artifacts ? allowing users to investigate the Maya writing system by exploring writing and hieroglyphs on vessels and artifacts,? Waldseem?ller Maps ? where users can examine the only surviving copies of what are arguably two of the most important maps in the history of cartography, the 1507 and 1516 world maps by Martin Waldseem?ller (the 1507 world map is the first map in which the name ?America? appears), and? The Buccaneers of America ? providing exploration of the pages of The Buccaneers of America, chronicling the bold feats of raiders who disrupted shipping on the high seas and terrorized Caribbean settlements.The first two interactives employ the use of Microsoft?s new Silverlight technology for delivering rich media applications via the web. The third is a Flash application using the Library?s own Page by Page technology for interactive book-turning. Each interactive presentation includes a full HTML version, featuring video with synchronized captioning and text transcripts, making the web site Section 508 compliant and completely accessible via keyboard and through the use of assistive devices such as screen-readers.The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections.

Nominated By: 
Year: 
2008