Title:Virtual Museum and Small Museums: Project
Authors:Magdalena Laine-Zamojska
Publication:MW2011: Museums and the Web 2011

There are around 1000 museums in Finland. According to the National Board of Antiquities there are 163 professionally run museums, which are responsible for 326 places open to public[1]. However, there are around 600 smaller museums[2], which cannot afford to digitize and make their collections accessible to a wider audience. The author's preliminary study has shown that online accessibility and attractiveness of cultural heritage in these small, local Finnish museums is very limited. However, the local museums are very eager to use available Internet solutions to present their collections and communicate with their audience.

ViMuseo (Finnish VirtuaaliMuseo means "virtual museum") is a project developed at the Department of Art and Culture Studies at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The main objectives of the research are: (1) to investigate the possibilities of new media in presenting cultural heritage in small museums; (2) to analyze the cooperation between the researcher, graphic designers and programmers; and (3) to construct the tool to create multimedia presentations. Participartory design and action research methods are used in this research.

During the demonstration the basic functionalities of ViMuseo will be explained. ViMuseo is an online tool to create multimedia presentations, virtual exhibitions and projects. It is designed for the institutions without digitized resources, which want to be more active in the internet. The tool is a content management system, implemented as a Web application (Web CMS). It is developed with programmers and graphic designers. There are two version of the system: and

The system and its interface are user friendly and its usage does not require any professional knowledge of programming. Users (the institutions' representatives) may register and describe their institutions in a predefined way. They may add objects and use them to create virtual collections, exhibitions and projects. Each object may be constructed by providing textual description, adding Google maps, images, flash animations, movies, music files and downloadable files in most common formats. In this way, the user creates multimedia presentations, which can be used to create virtual collections, exhibitions and projects. A few examples of social tools will also be implemented and tested (comments, tags and Facebook Open Graph).

ViMuseo is a non-commercial project. At this moment, as a part of the author's doctoral research, it serves only to investigate possibilities of new media and their implementation in local institutions. In 2010 the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture has constituted the working group to investigate the situation of the Finnish regional museums and the possible development tools. If many problems are solved, can be potentially developed as a working system serving local museums.

The research is supported by the grants from the Department of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. This project would not be possible without the help of the Jyväskylä University Museum[3], which provides all the necessary materials and support.

[1] The National Board of Antiquities, Museotilasto 2008 / Finnish Museum Statistics 2008 (13/12/2010)

[2] The Finnish Museums Association (13/12/2010)

[3] Jyväskylä University Museum (13/12/2010)