Title:The Uses of Virtual Museums: The French Viewpoint
Authors:Roxane Bernier
Publication:MW2002: Museums and the Web 2002

The mingling of the arts and of the Internet gives birth to new criteria of presentation for curators as well as of appreciation of masterpieces for visitors. However, does this new formula facilitate getting information on the arts, and do digitized works of art help redeem the aesthetic experiment. I will investigate how cultural institutions make use of the Internet as a specific mode of access to the arts, and therefore examine from a French perspective what resources should be used when browsing on-line exhibitions, as museum web designers possess little knowledge of users' tastes. Referring to a qualitative research undertaken by the Direction des musées de France on ten web museums, I will demonstrate that the use of the Internet for museums is perceived as ?knowledgeable information? for users. It is stressed that a virtual museum can cause users who cannot evaluate the site from content on the homepage to lose interest. Nevertheless, I assert that emerging electronic language forms undoubtedly influence the course of ?individual learning?, but also offer a particular outlook of masterpieces, as visitors must get acquainted with the ergonomics through a myriad of informational and technical patterns (e.g., hypertext links, icons, VMRL). From an elaborate grid, I will show what sort of homepages, computer graphics, navigational paths, types of content and application software are preferred.