Title:Going Online: Moving Multimedia Exhibits onto the Web
Authors:Sandy Kydd, Douglas MacKenzie
Publication:MW97: Museums and the Web 1997

Producing a computer-based multimedia museum exhibit involves a unique set of problems in the design of a software system to satisfy the needs of a wide range of visitors and researchers. When it comes to moving the exhibit onto the Internet, new problems and issues arise. The paper introduces TAMH (Tayside: A Maritime History), a PC-based multimedia project exploring some issues involved in allowing users to ask the questions which interest them in the way they find most appropriate. The process discussed is that of moving the TAMH system from its original standalone or locally networked form to a Web-based virtual museum site, allowing universal access to a multimedia database archive, and novel methods of searching the archive. The standalone TAMH system uses interactive maps and visual criteria selection to search the database, as well as more traditional field searching methods, allowing a whole spectrum of users to traverse the database and discover facts and connections. The original design concept was to move away from rigid hypertext-like links. Emulating this flexibility in the on-line version involves careful design of the Web-based system. Indeed, the fact that the underlying st ructure is a database will be of interest to only a small proportion of users. To the rest, to maintain their interest, this fact needs to be disguised. In addition, the Internet environment provides new facilities which can be used in the evolution of the exhibit, and a perfect medium for collecting feedback on system and content design from a large body of visitors.