Title:Bringing Authentic Museum Experiences to the Web
Authors:Robert Semper
Publication:MW98: Museums and the Web 1998

Museums have embraced the World Wide Web as a natural tool for promotion, publishing and communication but have been less swift to explore its potential as an exhibition medium. Part of this reticence is a well founded concern with the difficulty of providing the authenticity of a real interaction with real objects and real activities, the hallmark of the museum experience. And yet the Web, unlike any other mass communication media, has the potential to support an audio-visual browsing relationship with a subject which can be akin to some aspects of a museum visit. Fortunately, the initial wave of "Virtual Museums", not surprisingly developed mostly by non museum people, has passed by. The question remains "What can happen if museum exhibit designers would focus their design skills on creating WWW experiences?" This paper will discuss our current thinking about the use of an exhibition mentality in the design of online material through a presentation of some of the recent experimental Exploratorium Web projects including live Webcasting of remote field experiences to an onsite and online public, the creation of on-line interactive exhibits and the development of an exhibition Website structure.