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published: April, 2002

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


Devices of Wonder
Kathleen Evanoff, J. Paul Getty Trust, USA
Vicki Porter, J. Paul Getty Trust, USA

Demonstration: Demonstrations 2

Art museum audiences are forbidden from handling objects—even ones that were designed to be used--because of the higher need to preserve the art. When the Getty mounted a major exhibition of interactive optical devices, the challenge was to provide a hands-on experience on the Web to supplement the gallery experience. Twenty-two objects were chosen from the vast exhibition for the Devices of Wonder site. Using Flash, JAVA, RealPlayer, and HTML, the resulting site provides an intensely interactive experience that delivers the exhibition’s theme in a way not possible in the museum.

The design effectively puts visitors in control of the interactive devices by providing a stage area where each device can be manipulated and discovered one at a time, in any order. To restore the primary experience to its rightful place, text is given a secondary role. While available, it is not the meat of the site.

For Museums and the Web 2002, we propose a discussion with demonstration covering the goals, production process, challenges, and lessons learned in the Devices of Wonder Web project. The paper will include an analysis of how Web visitors use the site.

Discussion will include:

·Interactivity: A brief historical background

·Rationale for creating an interactive site

·Challenges to be discussed: How to make the user experience Easy AND interactive AND truthful to the art object at the same time.

·Lessons learned and results