Title:A Whale of a Web-Site
Authors:Joan Nordbotten, Anne Karin Hufthammer
Publication:MW2003: Museums and the Web 2003

The Natural History Museum at the University of Bergen has a unique collection of 24 whale skeletons on display that is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world. The museum wishes to make this collection, which literally fills 2 rooms, accessible to the international community through a Web exhibit. Our principle challenges include a limited budget, selection of appropriate filming techniques, and content presentation to a varied public that includes both researchers and school children. Our goal is to provide an exhibit that can support both the in-depth and broad overview interests of our anticipated users. The whale skeletons in our collection are large objects -- up to 24m (80ft). We are therefore exploring alternatives for inclusion of video presentations in the exhibit design. One option is to use an overview video and develop a two-level interface in which images, video, and audio clips of the whales with maps and stories are linked at the surface level where we expect the general public will browse, while research data that supports study of skeletal material is linked at a deeper, zoom level. An alternative is to use an architectural sketch of the physical exhibit as the interface and focus on development of item videos for presentation of the individual skeletons of each species. In this paper, we present an evaluation of alternative uses of video and zoom technology for exhibits of large-scale objects. We demonstrate that adequate video quality can be within the economic reach of low-budget museums.