Title:Investigating Art Museum Web Sites: A Three-Part Approach
Authors:Amy Karabin
Publication:MW2000: Museums and the Web 2000

This presentation will highlight the results of recent research in which ten art museum web sites were examined using a self-designed three-part investigative matrix that identifies and applies specific criteria to each web site. The three main components of the investigative matrix are: technological, design and source considerations of the Web; characteristics of the Web and web use thought to enhance learning; and, the National Visual Arts Standards. Criteria relating to technological, design and source considerations of the Web include: (1) scope of content; (2) content validity/verifiability of details; (3) currency of information; (4) credibility of source; (5) point of view/bias/objectivity; (6) layout/design/navigation; (7) media integration; and, (8) interactivity/usability. Criteria relating to characteristics of the Web and web use thought to enhance learning include: (1) the unbounded nature of web information; (2) connectivity of web site content with related and divergent information; (3) user-centered content and design; (4) self-guided/direct manipulation and control by users; (5) increased user motivation; and, (6) encouraging new ways of learning how to learn. The six content standards of the National Visual Arts Standards are: (1) understanding and applying media, techniques and processes; (2) using knowledge of structures and functions [in art]; (3) choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas; (4) understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures; (5) reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of [the student's art] work and the work of others; and (6) making connections between the visual arts and other disciplines (National Art Education Association, 1994). Following an introductory literature review and detailed discussion and definition of each matrix component, the ten art museum web sites are analyzed in terms of their adherence to the criteria in the investigative matrix. The ten art museum web sites examined in this study fall into one of five categories: flagship/large art museums, regional/local art museums, university art museums, special interest/ethnic art museums, and on-line art museums. ArtsConnectEd ( ; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (; the Silicon Valley Institute of Art and Technology (; the National Museum of Wildlife Art (; Indiana University Art Museum (; the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art (; The Museum for African Art (; the Museum of International Folk Art (; (; and, The American Museum of Photography ( are the art museum web sites involved in the investigation. The main goal of this study is to provide art and museum educators with a methodology that can be used to investigate additional art museum web sites and web sites with art education related content. Using this method, art and museum educators, as well as educators from other disciplines, can conduct future exploration into the technological and educational aspects, as well as adherence to the National Visual Arts Standards, of other web sites they may want to use to meet their pedagogical needs.