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published: April, 2002

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


Within These Walls
Donna Tramontozzi, New Tilt, USA

Demonstration: Demonstrations 2

The 'Within These Walls' Website is an interactive companion to a museum exhibition launched by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. The museum exhibition features a real two-and-one-half story house brought from Massachusetts to the Smithsonian and now located on the museum's second floor. The Website expands the message of the exhibition -- that ordinary people leading everyday lives are part of the extraordinary events of our nation's history -- beyond the walls of the museum. It also enhances the physical exhibition by providing additional experiences, including a "go back in time" activity and materials for teachers.

The design center for the Website was to create an intimate experience where the user can explore the lives of each family represented in the physical exhibition. Because the physical exhibition does not allow visitors to actually enter the house, the goal of the Website was to provide a more personal navigation method where users can amble through and all but touch the parts of the exhibition. Like the physical exhibition, this Website sets out to inform, educate and entertain.

To achieve this interactive experience, the Website was designed and developed using a combination interface. Macromedia Flash was used to allow for exploration through the many artifacts in the physical exhibit and to reveal information about the family, the house and time in history at the user's individual pace. Standard Website coding was used in parts of the site for easy updating through the lifetime of the exhibition, which also includes an educational activity for children.