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The Small Museum Web Site: A case study of the web site development and strategy in a small art museum.Kristine Hoff, Aarhus University, Denmark
Session: Management Issues
All art museums, small or large, basically share the same mission to communicate to the public about their collections. This is ratified in the statutes of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). A Web site is a publishing tool and may as such be used to further this educational mission. Small art museums in that respect share the same goals as larger institutions, but their circumstances are very different. They are most often understaffed and managing an very limited financial resources, and these circumstances must be expected to impose same limitations an the amount of time, money and effort they are able to devote to developing and maintaining a web site. In a 1996 survey of UK museums it was concluded, not surprisingly, that lack of training and resources was the main reason why smaller institutions were not present an the Web.
The goal of this research is to take a closer look at the problems of small museums with regards to this new medium, by presenting an example of how they may be solved. It presents a case study of the development of a web site for Vejen Art Museum, a small art museum in Denmark, and it aims to investigate how an art museum with very limited resources might realistically make use of the web for publishing information.
It is the overall aim of this research to investigate the issues involved in the development and maintenance of a Web site for a small art museum. There are three central points of investigation:
l. How may a web site fit into the general information strategy of a museum.
2. What are the minimal requirements in relation to financial investment and work effort.
3. How is the work best organised in order to make the process as economical and effective as possible.
This case study may serve as an example to other small art museums contemplating the development of a web site. Not because it is exemplary in the sense of being perfect, but because it highlights the issues and problem areas of such a project. It is not possible to draw ultimate conclusions as to the perfect way to use the medium, as any museum will have to take into consideration their special needs, abilities and circumstances. The real strength and value of a case study like this is that the experiences learned may give museum professionals and others involved in similar projects a sense of the tasks at hand.