A way of thinking about online exhibits? “The wind of commerce hit museums harder than many universities. In some instances necessity occasioned the creation of good websites as the public face of the institution (interest logged via hits per week); in others it provoked a rethink of the mission of museums and a dumbing down to a lower common denominator, in displays, special exhibitions, and websites. Museums are in a state of flux because of computers and the Web: can/should technology be applied to these dusty mausolea of out-of-context artifacts to provide a learned, multimedia, immersive context – the nearest thing now possible to reintegrating the works with the context from which they were removed? Or is the museum of the future to be a theme park, lacking any truly educational mission, with Web displays as part of the fun? Believers in culture should hope for the former; but, as the inscription on Wren’s tomb nearly has it, Si monumentum requiris, cinumclicke.
Indeed, should we extrapolate from the existence of the Web to the decline of campus-based universities and physical museums and galleries? If galleries can only display a small proportion of their collection at any one time, should not funding go into web-based image databases?”
In A Companion to Digital Humanities, ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.