Hello Virtual Visitor,
The concept of displaying museum objects online is nothing new—we’ve had our collections visible online for over a decade now. For us, the new release of our collections online is about more than displaying our treasures for the world to see. It’s an invitation for you – our beloved virtual visitor – to interact with our collections in new and interesting ways. Currently, we’re inviting anyone with a bit of inspiration to curate their very own Virtual Exhibit. After you create a Virtual Exhibit, you can use social media platforms to invite others to see it. Our objects + your insight = Museum of the 21st Century.
The objects in our collection serve as tools to tell the rich story of the American West. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the West is that it’s wild, untamed, and unpredictable (when was that Yellowstone Volcano supposed to erupt again?). If all goes as planned, we hope to capture a bit of the Spirit of the West by allowing registered users to comment on objects and virtual galleries. We know every website seems to require an account these days, so we made registration as quick and painless as possible.
Some of my colleagues (rightfully so) fear that this “openness” may challenge our authority and reputation as an institution. Time will tell—I am banking on the assumption that there are enough decent folks out there to keep the Internet Trolls at bay. Others fear that the bright, stunning detail of the photographs will negate the need to ever venture through our doors. This article indicates we’ve nothing to fear in that respect, but I’d be curious to hear your opinion in the comments.
In its current form, our Online Collections serves as a foundation for new and exciting projects. A full-featured API is patiently waiting under the hood—I will be writing a follow-up post soon with detailed instructions and JSFiddle working demos. If you have any ideas, comments, or questions, just leave a comment on this post and I’ll get in touch with you.
I drew inspiration from the fine online collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Nearly everyone at the Center of the West has directly or indirectly contributed to this project, but I want to give special kudos to the core team that was instrumental in getting it off the ground (you know who you are!).
Here is a test of the new Virtual Exhibit plug-in