|Title:||Thinking Critically about Virtual Museums|
|Publication:||MW97: Museums and the Web 1997|
Within the context of higher education students are able to gain access to a growing archive information for their studies in art and design history and practice. However, the educational aim in using these digital resources is to encourage a "critical" understanding of data and its context. The aim of this paper will be to look at online and associated stand-alone projects that encourage students to be curators and authors with critical distance, rather than passive observers of endless digital spectacle. There is also a theoretical dimension to such a task. I will therefore refer to the ways in which critical theory has been used to influence and shape the development of software in a project called the Virtual Curator at the University of Brighton, (UK); ways in which an understanding of the transient nature of the digital image is crucial for an understanding of the virtual museum; and, most importantly, how giving power to the user as the creator of an archive, also re-interprets the concept of the museum itself.