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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:  October 28, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License



America on the Move
Brad Johnson, Second Story Interactive Studios, USA
Steven Lubar, National Museum of American History, USA

Demonstration: Demonstrations - Session 2

Transportation transformed America. This dynamic companion Web site to the largest exhibition to ever be installed in the National Museum of American History explores the past two centuries of how Americans took to the rails, roads and water, driving the economic and cultural life of the nation. The heart of the online presentation consists of three main sections through which online visitors can seamlessly weave unique experiences tailored to their inquiry. Visitors get a historical overview in the Exhibition section which gives context to the themes and glues together the objects chronologically. Intuitive browse and search features in the Collection section provide access to over 1,500 transportation-related artifacts and photographs. Diverse viewpoints on a variety of related topics are explored in the Themes section where curators and historians continue to contribute new stories using artifacts and images from the collection. The addition of learning resources and three fun games makes the entire site a wonderful rich resource for collectors, enthusiasts, teachers, and students.

In contrast to traditional exhibition Web sites that segregate database-driven collections sections from fixed narrative presentations, the entire structure of this site is built on a scalable database back-end, such that the collection can grow and the curated, thematic, or mediated experiences can be dynamically created—even after opening. Through a browser-based 'storytelling tool,’ curators at the Smithsonian create custom groupings, write and publish paginated stories with custom layouts. Every image on every page of the site links to the object record in the collection where visitors can shift gears to see it within other contexts and parts of the site. This interconnected, cross-pollinated approach allows visitors to explore a multitude of different pathways and perspectives that reflect unique interests, experiences, and curiosities, and the scalable structure will continue to grow over time with new objects and points of view.