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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Lunder Conservation Center

Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery

The Lunder Conservation Center, which cares for the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, has glass walls that run the length of the laboratories. These visible spaces are designed to give the museum visitor a glimpse into the world of art conservation. Interpretation is of the utmost importance in raising awareness about the field, especially since the public has not often been privy to the functions of art conservation labs. The Lunder Conservation Center website introduces users to the field of conservation through treatment videos, interview clips with conservators from around the nation, 'before-treatment' and 'after-treatment' photographs of artwork, and a glossary of tools used by conservators. The Lunder website acts as a pre-visit introduction to the center and also as a post-visit follow up. By giving the visitor access to information about the labs and to content on the kiosks within the Lunder Consevation Center, visitors can preview, review, and share their visit experience. Introduction to basic concepts and vocabulary of conservation enables visitors to ask sophisticated questions and engage in dialogue. Giving visitors a taste of the conservator?s world and arming them with correct terminology creates a conversant public that feels compelled to care for our cultural heritage. These efforts to educate the public can have a ripple effect, reaching beyond the Smithsonian to other collections around the country.

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