Museums and the Web

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National Museum of Australia's Audio on demand program

National Museum of Australia

The National Museum of Australia's Audio on demand program is an evolving collection of recordings of key past and current lectures, forums and symposiums held on site at the National Museum in Canberra. As a national and publicly funded museum, new technologies increasingly enable Australians across the continent to enjoy and engage with our public programs.

As a social history museum we offer programs on a wide range of topics, with speakers drawn from our curatorial and conservation staff, our Centre for Historical Research, and from experts and personalities from a broad spectrum of interests and expertise.

The National Museum of Australia's collection, exhibitions, research and programs are particularly strong in the area of Australia's Indigenous peoples and our podcast program reflects this with a number of series exploring Indigenous history, art, and cultures.
The Audio on demand program showcases our programs to both national and international audiences.

A new way of doing things...

While the Museum has provided online access to recordings of selected program material for a number of years, by 2009 we were producing audio on demand for the majority of our conferences, lectures, forums and other programs. The mass of content on the site reached a level where the existing website was difficult to navigate and the preparation of files for web upload (including audio file metadata, XML feeds and the front end site) had become too resource intensive. We needed a solution.

To address this problem the Museum developed a new custom Content Management System and interface for the site. The redevelopment allowed for a significant increase in production efficiency. Rather than three separate data sources, the system allows for a single data source for all three outputs: audio file metadata, XML feeds and front-end interface. The new front-end website offers significantly improved navigation, and increased discoverability within and between related programs. While the system sits outside the Museum's main site structure, its design and persistent top level navigation ensures online visitors have a seamless experience when moving between the Audio on demand section
and other areas of the Museum's website. The site enables visitors to browse content by series and keyword. Podcasts are transcribed to enable accessibility for people with hearing disabilities as well as for students and researchers for whom text can be more useful.

Recommended pathway select 'museums' , 'biography' , 'science' , 'indigenous' from the tag cloud in the right-hand column to get a sense of the range and diversity of the podcast program.


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