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published: April, 2002

Archives & Museum Informatics, 2002.
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License


Web site metamorphosis
Adele O'Dowd, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, USA

Mini-Workshop: Project Management

Museum web sites are distinctive animals in the world of the web. To be successful, they must meet a variety of needs which range from satisfying the basics, like mentioning hours of operation, to providing food for thought on say, changing the world or maybe just contemporary culture as we know it. On top of this, museum sites constantly evolve depending on exhibitions, field research or events going on in the physical world. How can one design unite all this information? Further, as a designer, how do you even start?

This paper exposes the re-design and information architecture process undertaken to recreate the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum web site. Various aspects of the process will be discussed: developing thumbnail sketches for the look and architecture of the site; collaborating harmoniously with numerous colleagues from all arms of the museum; analyzing inspirational sites; incorporating vast quantities of information in a non-repetitive way, attempting to give a web visitor the 'museum' experience; and most importantly bringing the content to bear.

There was a time when even the simple addition of content (bulk) to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum web site only served to make it unwieldy and reveal an awkward organization of information. A significant transformation was inevitable. The desire, of course, was to change from a creature of vital functions to one of elegance.