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complementary activities, discourses and presentations of the cultural or heritage
Examples of valuable community activities which occur within a virtual museum
environment include:
- `Ask a specialist'. Email enquiries can be answered at a curator's convenience;
- Users can `play' with a digital surrogate of an artefact in hitherto impossible ways.
This deeper engagement is not only an advantage in itself, but allows features such
as `Create your own...' where a visitor can `use' the object (for example, an antique
musical instrument), and save their interaction with it (e.g. a tune);
- Encouraging visitors from non-traditional museum audiences, and dispelling any
negative preconceptions about museum visiting;
- Using the digital artefacts as part of social interactions, for example, sending an
e-Card of a painting in the collection;
- Personalisation such as `My Museum' features.This could include `matching'
functionality, for example `Other visitors who enjoyed that exhibit also enjoyed X';
- An increased likelihood of cross-pollination between disciplines and enhanced
communication between scattered devotees and experts, leading to both increased
knowledge and new degrees of interaction;
- The possibility of face-to-face communities developing as a result of online interactions.
Virtual museums should begin to use their online environments in more sophisticated
ways as the potential of these new interactions between people, objects and environments
becomes more fully understood. As the new modes of interaction, greater accessibility,
and more widespread input make participation in VCs more exciting and valuable, more
people will make use of it, leading to a greater number of knowledgeable, adept and
fulfilled virtual communicators.
Remote Collaboration for an Exhibition
An art gallery wishes to run a yearlong exhibition on the theme of immigration, and
in particular the cultural value and diversity that immigrants have brought to their new
country.The gallery plans to include works by both contemporary and historical artists,
and would like to produce an introductory guide to the exhibition which will be pre-
sented on the gallery's Web site.The planner contacts a local museum which holds many
important artworks by and of immigrants, as well as a small private gallery which holds a
rich collection of the works of a famous contemporary artist.The gallery also contacts
the national galleries of the countries of origin for a majority of immigrants, and after
discussion with the managers there decides to include some of their works which depict
colonisation and emigration.
The gallery does not currently have a member of staff whose job it is to design exhi-
bitions, and as this exhibition combines works from many institutions they decide to seek
opinions from the collaborators and more experienced peers.The project has not the
budget to organise multiple face-to-face brainstorming and planning sessions, so in order
to utilise the expertise of all the collaborators most fully the gallery staff begin to
Collaborative Mechanisms
and Technologies
319 Cf. Dominic Prosser & Susan Eddisford,"The Object of Learning:Virtual and Physical Cultural Heritage
Interactions" in DigiCULT.Info 5, December 2003,
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