Planning Kit for a Quality Site for Small and Medium Sized Museums

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A single Museum Web Site can represent various communities. These can be grouped into two types.

Those communities formed by the users of the site, and the community, network of projects and on-line contents pertinent to the collections.

Note the definition of “user” in the Handbook for Quality in Cultural Web Sites (a user is a professional or non-professional, specialist or non-specialist, who, casually or with specific aims, occasionally or systematically uses the Cultural Web Application. User needs are extremely variable depending on cultural profile, aspirations for cultural growth, and even on momentary curiosity”).

In the specific case of museum Web sites, we can define certain categories of users who are particularly interested and involved. Among these are:

  • Professionals in the sector (directors, conservators, experts, restorers, cultural and tourist guides), both those working within the institute of the museum producing the Cultural Web Application, and those external to the structure (members of universities, researchers, experts, scholars, restorers, tourist guides). Both categories supply competent, critical and demanding users.
  • Scholastic educators (teachers of various levels, educational experts, animators, communicators). This category of users will be materials oriented. Students and art lovers will require contents of a didactic nature, to navigate the often complex and technical material. The language used – language considered in the various meanings in context of the web – should be clearly co-ordinated and coded.

Specific contents and services should be created for all the above categories and various means of interaction with users could also instituted, such as, for example:

  • Newsletter
  • Discussion Groups
  • Forum etc.

It may be useful to activate thematic communities between museums, for example:
objects that are geographically dispersed, such as all the works of a given painter, can be virtually located together. This has been tried in numerous museum Web sites, for example for the works of Caravaggio.

In any case, active participation in thematic portals on the part of a public entity such as a museum is vital above all in order to control spread of the quality of information, which would otherwise be left totally in the hands of private entities and individuals.

In order to implement a community of operating subjects in the field, it may be useful to offer a selection of important links.


© Minerva Project 2005-02, last revision 2006-03-27, edited by WP5, Committee for the development of a prototype of public cultural websites.
URL: www.minervaeurope/structure/workinggroups/userneeds/prototipo/protomuseo/comunita_e.html