Title:Meta-Centers: Do They Work and What Might the Future Hold. A Case Study of Australian Museums On-Line
Authors:Kevin Sumption
Publication:MW2000: Museums and the Web 2000

The Australian Museums On-Line (AMOL) project is six years old. During this time it has established a reputation as both an innovative and highly popular, Internet-based gateway to Australian museums and galleries. A recent study showed that from February 1998 to July 1999, AMOL received over two and a half million hits from 138,380 users, averaging out at more than 270 unique users a day. As well as individual users AMOL has also attracted a growing number of significant museum and gallery collections. But what have been the tangible and quantifiable benefits of this use and representation? Has the AMOL meta-center approach increased access to cultural resources and communications tools, in ways that have meaningfully benefit both museum professionals and the general public? The AMOL project team was mindful that it was time such questions were answered. Particularly when the number of Australian museums developing their own expensive OPACs grows and they begin to question the usefulness of a meta-center approach. In an effort to examine these issues and chart a way forward, AMOL commissioned the first of two remedial evaluations in late 1999. In this paper I intend looking at the results of the first quantitative evaluation and development of the second qualitative evaluation, as well discuss a range of marketing, promotional, educational and technological strategies the process has spurred.