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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The Museum of Underwater Archaeology

The Museum of Underwater Archaeology
T. Kurt Knoerl (in house by Knoerl)

The online Museum of Underwater Archaeology (MUA)was started in 2004 as a way to encourage underwater archaeologists to utilize the Internet for the sharing of their research with the general public. That effort began with one small exhibit on a British colonial wreck site near St. Augustine, FL. Today the site houses over 150 pages of content contributed by 21 graduate students (many writing for the public for the first time) affiliated with 5 major universities, numerous ethically committed avocational underwater archaeological societies, and several research professionals. These contributors come from around the world and thus our content features sites across the globe as does our audience which so far has come from over 90 countries. Many of these projects were posted during 2007. Having accumulated such a tremendous resource for learning the MUA worked with school groups to create both a live classroom presentation as well as a freely avialable kit that was launched in November, 2007. So far the kit has been shipped to Canada, South Korea, the Dominican Republic, South Africa, the UK, Australia, and across the United States. The kit bridges the gap between the Internet and the physical world. It includes 7 artifacts commonly found on 18th century shipwreck sites, a CD with 10 documents including the lesson plan, a teacher's guide on artifact analysis, 7 videos on various aspects of working underwater, and sidescan sonar images for learning about search and survey work. The kit also has an online component that utilizes software that leads students on a predetermine path through the entire website. It guides them to excerpts that when read together helps them answer research questions posed by the teacher. Students learn where underwater archaeology is taking place in the world, by whom, and through what sort of training. When combined with interactive maps on the site that show where projects are located underwater they gain a global view of the field in general. New updates can be found on the teaching page which like the kits themselves are free. The MUA was recently added to the National Education Associations list of web resources. When viewed together the MUA's collection of online exhibits, project journals, brief 'In The Field' posts, maps, and teaching components combine to make a truly unique site where students, professionals, and avocationals share their experiences with the general public. The MUA is the only site that brings these three groups together in one place and represents an innovative way of prompting the underwater archaeological community to share their work with the world.

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