Title:The Potential of Museum Web Sites for Art Conservation and Historic Preservation
Authors:Charles Rhyne
Publication:MW98: Museums and the Web 1998

Conservators at advanced museum laboratories around the world have been at the forefront in developing laser technology and high quality digital imagery, and the international conservation community has been a leader in establishing Internet resources for sharing up-to-date technical information. Their success, growing out of specific needs, demonstrates the importance of discipline-specific resources for museum research and public programs. Especially as web standards are being adopted, often with little involvement of discipline-specific users, the unique character of many museum collections, ranging from rare works of art to objects of everyday use and specimens of the natural world, is in danger of being homogenized and the discipline-specific needs of their staffs and publics overlooked. Because museums are engaged in archaeological excavations and natural history studies in many parts of the world, these needs also impact the growing industry in cultural and environmental tourism, a major opportunity for public education. This paper will take the fields of conservation and historic preservation as a case example of the need for discipline-specific resources and will review the most advanced uses and future potential of museum sites in this field. It will conclude with a presentation of several model web pages which I am currently developing as a demonstration of the potential of the web for research and public education in this fast growing field.