Museums and the Web 2005

Reports and analyses from around the world are presented at MW2005.

Taking Teaching by the Tusks: Introducing Pachyderm 2.0

Peter S. Samis, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Laurence F. Johnson, The New Media Consortium, USA


The Pachyderm 2.0 Project is a partnership led by the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), and funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The project brings software development teams and digital library experts from six NMC universities together with counterparts from five major museums to create a new, open-source authoring environment for creators of Web-based and multimedia learning experiences. The new tool is based on Pachyderm, the authoring and publishing tool used by SFMOMA to author its successful series, Making Sense of Modern Art (

Developed by SFMOMA to make the publication of modular and updateable rich media an easy task, the original Pachyderm toolset allowed non-programmers to create a variety of engaging resources that draw from, and build on, the collections of SFMOMA. The paper provides an overview the history, new open source specification, and the collaborative processes that have made Pachyderm 2.0 possible. A final section describes how museums and other interested institutions can participate in the project and in the planned Pachyderm user community.

Keywords: open-source, authoring tool, learning object, collaboration, Pachyderm, Flash


In the closing plenary for Museums and the Web 2004, Making Sense of Modern Art (MSoMA) Five Years On, one of the authors, Peter Samis, spoke about the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's (SFMOMA) on-line interactive programs and the authoring tool the Museum has developed over the years to publish them. This year Peter joins with Larry Johnson of the New Media Consortium (NMC) to tell the story of how this unusual project has fueled an equally unusual collaboration between the museum, library, and university worlds that promises to give all of these communities access to the tools used to create MSoMA. The purpose of this paper is to describe how that collaboration came into being, and in particular, how Pachyderm, the proprietary Flash authoring and publishing tool that SFMOMA developed with outside partners to create MSoMA, has been successfully translated into an open-source software platform that will be made available for general use in these communities in the coming year.

Developed by SFMOMA to make the publication of modular and updateable rich media an easy task, the original Pachyderm has allowed non-programmers to create a variety of engaging resources that draw from, and build on, the Museum's collections. The result has been in-depth Flash-based interactive learning programs such as Ansel Adams at 100 ( and Eva Hesse (, among many others. To date, literally millions of on-line and in-museum users have used the interactive learning programs authored using Pachyderm at SFMOMA.

The new tool, not surprisingly called Pachyderm 2.0, will be offered royalty-free thanks to an IMLS-sponsored collaboration between SFMOMA, five leading museums, and the library and university members of the New Media Consortium (NMC), an international association of 200 colleges, universities, museums, and other learning-focused organizations. The Pachyderm 2.0 Project has brought software development teams and digital library experts from six NMC universities together with counterparts from five major museums to create a new, open source authoring environment for creators of Web-based and multimedia learning experiences. The new tool, faithfully based on the original Pachyderm, is an interoperable, robust, easily distributable version that will be released as open-source and include a wide range of rich pedagogical templates. Pachyderm 2.0, now in beta testing, produces learning materials optimized for Internet delivery, easily reusable, and conformant with key search, archival, and cataloging standards.

The collaboration that characterizes the project is unique, and brings together the metadata and other expertise of the NMC's library community, the technological expertise in infrastructure and programming of key university members, and the user- and learner-focused expertise of a team of experienced interactive producers from five museums and several NMC schools. This latter group is advising on interface design, audience needs, and the technological capacities of future museum visitors, curatorial staff, faculty, and students.

A remarkable aspect of the project has been the easy and highly efficient collaboration among team members who are geographically dispersed across the length and breadth of North America. The teams use a wide array of technologies to support their work, including VoIP conferencing (video via the Web), blogs, instant messaging, email distribution lists, wikis, Web-accessible databases – and of course telephone conferencing and periodic face-to-face gatherings.

This paper will give a brief overview of the project, its history and vision, and a description of the collaborative processes that have made Pachyderm 2.0 possible. We'll begin with a brief background about Pachyderm 1.0, its origins and purposes, and review some of the salient features of Pachyderm that prompted its migration to open source. The core of this paper will focus on the process by which we have been developing Pachyderm 2.0, our plans for beta testing, and how it will soon be made available to the greater museum community. Other papers (Smith 2005, LaMar 2005) detail the user requirements gathering and testing process, and the programming architecture/authoring interface re-design for Pachyderm 2.0. Taken together, we hope these three papers will provide a comprehensive overview of this new multimedia development environment, and instill a desire for institutions to road test it in service of their own on-line content development needs.

Pachyderm: A History

The first Pachyderm (even before it received its elephantine name) was born of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's need to provide an ongoing authoring solution to its multimedia educational program Making Sense of Modern Art. The Museum chose Macromedia Flash™ because in 1999 it was the only way we could ensure the design integrity we had come to expect from early CD-ROMs in a Web-compatible format. It offered elegance of font design, page display, and multimedia integration across the bewildering variety of browsers and platforms then in use (although at the time its relations with Apple's QuickTime™ video standard were far from a match made in heaven!). Furthermore, it provided a one-stop solution for publishing to the Web, fixed disc, or a kiosk.

That said, we were multimedia educators, not expert Flash programmers. Working with two San Francisco-based firms, Perimetre-Flux Design and Red Eye Digital Media, we proceeded simultaneously on four fronts:

  1. The first chapters of the Making Sense program itself, featuring rich media explorations of works by Robert Rauschenberg, Sol LeWitt, and many other artists of the Sixties and Seventies and the Late Twentieth Century
  2. Development of interactive templates representing a variety of approaches to understanding and appreciating modern and contemporary art
  3. The Flash programming to realize and populate those templates
  4. A content management and authoring tool that ported our Filemaker data into an SQL database, paired with a Web-based authoring interface. This tool, built to populate the templates we had designed, would enable us to add future chapters to the MSOMA program without having to ask Red Eye to do it for us. Technically, Visual Basic, VBScript and ASP connected the Web interface to the database and the data to the Flash. Flash Generator was used to wed object metadata to artwork images, resulting in .swf files that carried their label and copyright information with them wherever they appeared in the program.

Pachyderm as we now know it was the outcome of Deliverables 2, 3, and 4: the templates, the Flash, the browser-based authoring interface, and the under-the-hood logic that enables users to populate the templates with media and text, and publish to various platforms on demand.

The interactive templates were the authoring tool's defining feature. Each of them embodied a distinct approach to the examination, contextualization, and modes of understanding objects and images. The Formal Analysis screen allowed close-up examination of salient parts of a graphic file and refreshed the text as a user moused over each one. The Slider Gallery enabled a diachronic reading of a set of images, or the establishment of variations within a typology. The Zoom Screen allowed for extreme close-ups and pans of graphic files accompanied by sound commentary. The Onion Skin enabled multiple interpretations, or levels of approach, to a single work, movement, or idea. (See the Appendix for a discussion of the Pachyderm templates.)

In fact, almost all the templates had this in common: they served as multipliers of content. What the viewer saw on first arriving was less than they saw as they explored the screen. The screen types were inherently polyvalent: each held within it a mechanism for revealing a cascading succession of related media content as a result of the viewer's engagement. Multiple screen states, or facets of the topic, unfolded without having to refresh or reload the content. This was a natural outgrowth of the fact that both MSoMA and its authoring tool had been conceived to facilitate multiple approaches and modes of interpretation, to foster an open-ended, discovery-based understanding of the subjects they treated (Samis and Wise, 2000).

Another of Pachyderm’s strengths was that it allowed us to produce a large selection of stand-alone screens, each embodying a concept or pedagogical point that could then be used and re-used for various purposes in various presentations: a primitive form of a shared content repository. The flexibility of publishing to Web, kiosk, or CD-ROM was yet another definite plus. But most important of all was that once the initial investment was made, it became possible to use the templates to publish new interactive features for the price of the rights licenses and whatever new video production we hoped to add. The cost of doing quality multimedia dropped dramatically.

When we demonstrated and discussed these strategies, we found there was considerable interest among our museum peers. When would it be available for licensing, they asked? While in theory we were all for sharing the tool, we were also acutely aware that the tool in its then current state had constraints we weren't happy about; in particular, the authoring interface had taken a back seat to the templates in the competition for our limited funding, and we couldn't in good conscience roll it out so full of irregularities. (Granted, our interns showed they could learn to use it in a day, but it was still so far from the product we had envisioned or would have wanted to deliver anyone else…)

Secondly, the tool was designed to publish all presentations with the MSoMA look-and-feel: orange border, SFMOMA logo and arrow upper right, MSoMA navigation cube upper left. We had succeeded in replacing those graphics with an alternative look-and-feel for our Ansel Adams at 100 feature, but it had required hiring programmers to reconfigure the Flash. Even as we got better at it in-house, we saw that swapping out these themed graphics files was not trivial. Without that feature, other museums would not be able to insert their own branding.

Finally, other questions loomed: who would provide training, documentation and on-call technical support to potential licensees? We had our own ambitious schedule of content deliverables to meet for SFMOMA and couldn't be traveling or manning the phones to train and answer questions on a regular basis. Even more frightening: given a user community, how could we ensure the upgrade path? Flash 4, the platform of origin, had already given way to Flash 5, with no end in sight! We were, after all, primarily in the content business, not software entrepreneurs, and the maintenance, quality assurance, upgrade, and distribution of a code base for an entire user community went far beyond our mission.

Nevertheless, one SFMOMA Director, the entrepreneurial art-and-tech visionary David Ross, saw things differently. In late 2000 he ordered a study of how SFMOMA's investment in Pachyderm (by now the tool had its name, derived from the fusion of a Thai restaurant name in Sausalito with the well-known parable of Hindu blind men describing an elephant ) might translate into dot-com dollars for the Museum's ambitious programs.

And then there's the director's latest plan: nothing grand, just the founding of a new software company… "The real way to make money isn't begging… It's going out and making it on your own, big time."

–Stephen Henry Madoff, "Is this the Museum of the Future?" Talk Magazine (March 2001): 132-137.

In a white paper prepared to evaluate potential markets for the tool, David Henshaw wrote words that we hope will be prescient for the current project:

Pachyderm brings benefits to each key audience: Knowledge Owners get a tool that allows them to enter their content without being a technical wizard; Knowledge Acquirers get a tool that has a rich interface, is interactive and can be explored though "discovery." Administrators get a tool that takes advantage of an existing standard infrastructure and has low support and maintenance characteristics…

No programming skills are required, and a series of templates helps guide the experts through the process. Pachyderm brings the ability to create compelling content straight to those people who have the knowledge and understanding to begin with. (Henshaw, 2001)

David logically anticipated that one of the fastest growing markets for on-line education would be colleges and universities.

Sadly, this optimism had dimmed by the fall of 2002, and future development prospects for Pachyderm seemed unlikely. Dot-com euphoria had given way to dot-bomb fallout, and David Ross had left SFMOMA under a cloud; interactive educational technology staffers at the museum had been laid off; and ArtCouncil On-line, an ambitious on-line cultural venue which had briefly hoped to consolidate Intel's and while continuing to publish new arts-related content using Pachyderm, was at the end of its funds. While still very useful for the remaining SFMOMA staff, the future of Pachyderm, and especially support for continued refinement and expansion, was very much in doubt.

At this same time, the New Media Consortium (NMC) was actively talking to museums about how the relationships between colleges and museums that have worked so well in regional contexts might be scaled to a national level. The NMC, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit consortium of nearly 200 leading colleges, universities, museums, corporations, and other learning-focused organizations, has long been dedicated to the exploration and use of new media and new technologies. Its member institutions are found in almost every state in the US, across Canada, and in Europe, Latin America, and Japan, and its primary audience is the people on campuses charged with the design, creation, and support of new media tools and content.

The consortium's mission, to serve as a catalyst for the development of new applications of technology to support learning and creative expression, coupled with its active network of skilled designers, programmers, and learning support specialists made the NMC uniquely suited to support a large-scale collaboration that could meet the needs of campus developers, and the organization was actively engaged in looking for the right place to start.

In the spring of 2002, Ted Kahn, a Bay-area scientist with strong connections in both the museum and education worlds, and the first NMC Fellow, was working on a project to introduce new media leaders in the museum world to the work of the NMC. Among the introductions he made was one between John Weber, now an NMC Board member, and Larry Johnson, CEO of the NMC. As part of their conversations, Susie Wise provided a demo of Pachyderm. The potential of this tool for higher education was immediately apparent to Larry, who was most intrigued by the pedagogical approach embedded in the Pachyderm templates, but the conversations ranged across a wide spectrum of ideas, of which Pachyderm was just one at the time.

With Ted Kahn serving as facilitator, John and the SFMOMA team continued in conversations with Larry and the NMC over the summer and into the fall. As these conversations unfolded, it gradually became clear that a potential collaboration around Pachyderm presented a kind of "perfect storm" of opportunity – SFMOMA had a working tool that could meet the needs of a tremendous number of institutions wanting to create quality on-line content easily – a group that included colleges, universities, libraries, and museums, just to start.

The NMC, with the skills its members could bring to bear on projects and its focus on encouraging innovation and collaboration, had the means to build on SFMOMA's work. Working together, they could effectively deal with the obstacles that had seemed insurmountable or prohibitively expensive to SFMOMA acting alone, or to a for-profit software venture for that matter. The idea took shape in remarkably short order, and several key partners were identified (see table). The group began to consider funding strategies and the Institute for Museum and Library Services' (IMLS) National Leadership Grants seemed the perfect fit. Larry Johnson took on the task of framing a proposal, with considerable assistance from Peter Samis and John Weber.


Project Leads

  • NMC: The New Media Consortium
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 

Dr. Larry Johnson, CEO of the NMC and Peter Samis, Associate Curator of Education & Program Manager, Interactive Educational Technologies serve as co-principal investigators for the project and provide overall leadership to the effort

College & University Partners

  • California State University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Calgary

Museum Partners

  • Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archives
  • Cleveland Museum of Art
  • Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Tang Teaching Museum of Art

(The Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) has been participating in project activities as an observer since the fall of 2003).

Pachyderm 2.0 Project Partners

In October 2003, the IMLS notified the NMC that the proposal had been funded. One of the reviewers wrote in his comments that the partners constituted "the League of Extraordinary Institutions," and indeed, as work began in earnest, the partners pitched in with extraordinary enthusiasm. A Partnership Kickoff Meeting was held in San Francisco Oct 28-30, 2003, and attended by 32 representatives of the 12 partner institutions. At this meeting, the partners discussed the project and its goals, agreed on major milestones and related deadlines for years two and three, and began building the connections between people that sustain the project between face-to-face meetings. The meeting, which was structured as an intensive working session, resulted in the development of more than 75 personae and over 100 scenarios for using Pachyderm. (This work and all other documents and tools referred to in this document can be viewed on the Pachyderm Web site, at

At this meeting, a number of functional teams were formed, each charged with completion of a component of the effort: the Requirements Team; the Pedagogy & Usability Team; the Programming Team; and the Metadata & Standards Team (see Acknowledgements for Team Members). Biweekly Breeze Live meetings between the team leaders, the project manager, and the project directors ensured that each of the distributed teams was working in concert with the other project teams and allowed easy "mid-course corrections" whenever needed.

From the earliest conversations, two goals were formulated related to the development of the Pachyderm 2.0 authoring environment. The first was to make the software "platform-independent" so the tool could be installed on any server, with Linux, Windows, and Mac servers to be tested. The second was to redesign the authoring interface's look and feel, moving it to a completely open-source approach, and putting the code into place that will enable a future shift to a component-based rather than a template-based system.

Activities related to the first goal primarily involved rewriting the original Pachyderm code to incorporate open-source components such as MySQL rather than the original FileMaker Pro and Microsoft SQL databases, and rewriting scripts and other components originally in Visual Basic in the more open PHP and XML. To accomplish the second goal, Pachyderm was conceptualized as having two major parts. The first was the "Authoring Interface," which included the Web pages into which authors enter the content for their modules and the logic required to make those pages functional. With that interface, users can use a Web browser on any machine to access the authoring interface. This aspect of Pachyderm has been moved completely to a fully open-source code base. The "Publishing Component" resides on a server and runs commands issued by the Authoring Interface to turn data from the database into a finished Pachyderm module (Flash & media files ready to run on a Web server or CD-ROM). This component has been incorporated into the APOLLO platform, running on Apple's WebObjects, a University of Calgary tool that provides significant new functionality and will make the creation of Pachyderm extensions much simpler. The move to WebObjects is a slight compromise given our complete openware goal, but it promises to save us countless programmer hours in achieving the desired set of features.

The Pachyderm 2.0 Project is not just about rewriting the software, however. Central to the project is the development of at least 20 richly interactive learning experiences by the project's museum and university partners using the new environment. The development of these materials will constitute a comprehensive test of the software in at least 10 different settings, and prove its worth as an authoring environment – as well as provide exemplars for the range of ways in which the tool might be used.

The Process

The existing Pachyderm code was extensively reviewed in Fall 2003 to identify opportunities for improvements, streamlining, greater flexibility and correction of lingering bugs. Similarly, the existing Pachyderm interface was also reviewed by the usability team to identify opportunities for improvement, such as the standardization of screen elements, tools, icons, etc., but just as importantly, to identify missing and needed pedagogical templates. User studies were conducted with key stakeholder groups, including museum staff and visitors, university faculty and students, and potential authors to extend and validate the work done in these reviews. Reports of these studies are available on the Pachyweb (

As they worked through the fall of 2003 and into the spring of 2004, the Programming Team targeted two key tasks: reverse engineering the Pachyderm 1.0 code, and making the Pachyderm 1.0 codebase, usable only at SFMOMA, into an alpha version of Pachyderm 2.0, installable and usable on servers outside of the SFMOMA environment. The reverse engineering on the existing installation package from the SFMOMA Pachyderm installation was completed December 11, 2003, and a report delivered on installation issues.

The second full Pachyderm Project meeting was held in San Francisco January 20-22, 2004, with a focus on formally capturing the programming requirements for Pachyderm 2.0. More than 300 requirements were identified and prioritized by the 32 attendees. This was the first Pachyderm meeting to set up a wireless network in the meeting space to allow participants, working in teams, to enter their contributions and ideas directly into a Web database from their laptops. The approach was so productive that it has been used at all subsequent Pachyderm meetings. The data import script from FileMaker to SQLServer was identified as the largest problem and it was decided that it should be rewritten from scratch, a task completed February 24, 2004.

Essential library data specifications and standards were identified by the Metadata & Standards Team, as well as the key metadata standards (e.g., Dublin Core, SCORM, IMS) that will be packaged with the visitor and learning experiences created with the tool. These standards include compliance with major efforts in digital rights management; sophisticated cataloging, search and retrieval; interoperability; and reusability. A detailed report of this work is available on the Pachyweb. Working with librarians and key library groups across the continent over the winter and spring of 2004, the Metadata and Standards Team considered a wide range of specifications and standards, and distilled this work into a set of recommendations for Pachyderm 2.0. The Metadata Issues document outlines the scope of these recommendations and possible crosswalks for the most commonly used standards in the Museum, Library and Post-secondary environments. It was determined that Dublin Core should be the native Pachyderm description format as it is the common denominator of most of the metadata sets that have been identified. The document also provides mappings or crosswalks; from Dublin Core to Pachyderm 1.0, VRA Core 3.0, CDWA, MARC21, MODS, EAD item level, and IEEE L.O.M.

Due to the expansive nature of metadata and programming in general, there were some items that were deemed out of scope for the current project but that may yet be addressed in future projects. Thesauri, federated or broadcast search, metadata harvesting, direct import of metadata stored in databases or in some relational or other non-flat format such as IMS Content Packaging or METS were deemed out of scope. To facilitate data transfer from these systems it was decided to accept tab delimited files that would be an export from the host repository. The full report is available on the Pachyderm Web site.

Pachyderm was installed locally at the California State University Center for Distributed Learning (CDL), updating the installation instructions extensively and fixing bugs in the code and data as they were found. During this time the architectural planning for a large-scale restructuring of Pachyderm to transform the tool from a template-based system to a component based system was completed. This transformation will enable the addition of new templates to the system without code change.

Three focus groups were conducted at Case Western Reserve University in spring 2004. The first targeted staff from the campus libraries; the second a group of faculty from the Schools of Business, Medicine, and Social Work; and the third had faculty representatives from each of the eight Case Western schools. Input was gathered from those who attended on the look and feel, ways in which they would use Pachyderm in their work, what they would like to see changed, and what they would like to see added. The information was condensed into a document that was shared with the Pachyderm team and used in the requirements document. In addition, Rachel Smith conducted focus groups with faculty across the California State University and Deborah Howes conducted individual focus sessions with visitors at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As the culmination of an extensive consensus-based process that was the main activity of the project's first six months, a formal 105-page requirements document was approved by the partners at the third face-to-face team meeting, held April 21-23 in San Francisco. This document and its supporting tools and resources (the Requirements Tracker, Personae, and User Scenarios) are available in the Document Archive on the Pachyderm Web site. The Pachyderm development process also launched, and a full day was spent on hands-on author training for the 36 participants using the Web-accessible Pachyderm installation at the University of Calgary. As the closing activity of this meeting, the Alpha version of Pachyderm 2.0, codenamed Rhino, was released to partners on April 23, 2004. (The tagline for the Alpha version was "If it don't crash, it ain't a Rhino!")

In the months between that meeting and January 2005, the User Interface Team completely redesigned the authoring and presentation screens based on the Requirements Document and extensive user testing that took place over the summer and fall of 2004. This work has resulted in a completely new look and feel for the authoring interface.

Pachyderm Web Sites and Other Resources

The Pachyderm Project makes extensive use of technology to support the work of its distributed teams, and to ensure that interested parties have access to complete information about the project and its activities. The project makes use of technological resources that are publicly accessible as well as private resources limited to team members only. All relevant reports, documents, and other materials are routinely published to the Web so that they can be accessed by any interested party. The following list describes the most important of these tools and provides links to each of them.

Pachyderm Website

The official Web site for the project was completely redone in September 2004 in preparation for the launch of beta testing in February 2005. In addition to providing a one-stop source of information on the project, including news, updates, and access to key documents, it also provides a clear picture of the project and its current status, as well as links to the IMLS, to the Pachyblog, and much more.


This multi-author blog is the official communication center for the project participants and is the best source of project news and up-to-the moment detailed information. Every resource available to the Project via the Internet can be accessed from Pachyblog. Every member of the project team can make posts or add comments, which gives Pachyblog a "feel" that is very much reflective of the people participating in the project.


This Web site is the home of the official Pachyderm document archives. Here is where working and official documents like the complete specification for Pachyderm, team reports, evaluation studies, and major publications of the project (such as this report) are housed once they are completed. Archiving these materials in this way makes them easily accessible to everyone involved in the project by accessing a single URL.

Pachyderm Streaming Presentation

This 20-minute Web-based presentation provides an excellent overview of Pachyderm and the Pachyderm 2.0 Project.

What's Next? The Pachyderm Beta Testing Process

The invitation to apply to be beta testers went out to the NMC membership in early February 2005. These relatively technical participants were split into groups; the first group started with the first release, and additional groups were added to successive beta releases as the spring unfolded to ensure fresh feedback with each release.

An essential part of the beta testing process is the inclusion of participants who may be, but who are not necessarily technically adept or knowledgeable. This aspect kicks off with the publication of this paper, and accompanies an invitation at the April meeting of Museums and the Web to interested participants from the museum world to also join the testing effort.

These first tests will be tests of the authoring system only, so beta testers will be able to access Pachyderm via the Internet and a special login. As with the early rounds, groups will be formed that will be invited to participate sequentially as Pachyderm becomes more and more refined. Testers will assume some responsibility for reporting, and an application process will help inform potential testers as to the scope of the role.

The final stage of the beta testing process will be to test the system installation and downloading features, which will occur over three testing cycles in summer 2005. Institutions wishing to have their own Pachyderm server for in-house production are encouraged to participate in this round of tests, which will again start within the NMC community, and expand outward into the museum space. The iterative process of successive rounds of refinement and testing will continue into the summer, with public release of Pachyderm 2.0 scheduled for fall of 2005.

Closing Thoughts

At the time this paper is being written, the Pachyderm Project is almost exactly at the halfway point. It has been a year of excitement and anticipation, but the real payoff lies ahead, when curators, digital librarians, and faculty with little or no background in design or technology will be able to create rich custom on-line content from their own materials. The remaining time of the project will be spent in an exploration of how Pachyderm will serve these new audiences, and in building a community of Pachyderm users that we hope will be ongoing.

The foundations for that community are being built today, and will be fleshed out during the Pachyderm 2.0 beta testing over the spring and summer of 2005. We plan to launch this unique on-line community at the same time that Pachyderm is released, and are modeling it on work taking place within the NMC as part of its Dynamic Knowledge Initiative. What we envision is a rich, interactive space where authors and potential authors can exchange ideas, find collaborators, and discover new ways of approaching their work – a knowledge Web of insights not only about Pachyderm and its uses, but also about visual communication and new forms of literacy and expression. We invite you to join us on this journey and to help us by expanding Pachyderm’s capabilities, by using it to create new and engaging explorations of culture, science, and humanity, and by participating in the discussions we hope it will stimulate.


None of this would have happened without the fierce dedication and commitment of Susie Wise, who was then Senior Producer, Interactive Educational Technologies, and Tim Svenonius, our ever savvy Production Manager and Technical Specialist, aided by a small but loyal group of staff and interns. Stephen Jaycox and Steve Barretto were the lead designers at Perimetre-Flux, affording MSoMA its look and feel. At Red Eye, Alon Salant was the Chief Software Architect, Chad Kassirer was Production Manager, and Thomas Cheung was database guru. Eric Tam, Red Eye co-founder and CEO, was an ally and strong supporter of the project.

The Requirements Team was led by Rachel Smith of CalState's Center for Distributed Learning (CDL); Michelle LaMar, also of the CDL, led the Programming Team. Mike Mattson, University of Calgary and M. Claire Stewart, Northwestern University, co-chaired the Metadata & Standards team. The Pedagogy and Usability Team was co-chaired by Wendy Shapiro of Case Western Reserve University and Tom Hapgood of the University of Arizona. These functional teams were reorganized near the end of the project's first year.

At the third face-to-face project meeting. The Metadata & Standards Team, its work largely completed, merged with the Programming Team to become the Development Team, with Michelle LaMar and Mike Mattson serving as co-chairs. The Requirements Team, its work also done, ceded its place to the Documentation Team, a new team under the leadership of Rachel Smith, who moved to the NMC in June 2004. Rachel also assumed leadership of the new Usability & Testing Team. Tom Hapgood, whose interface designs had energized the project, assumed the chair of the new User Interface team.


Henshaw, D. (2001). "Pachyderm - an overview of the market, the tool and the opportunity" (SFMOMA Internal document, undated [ca. May 2001])

Samis, P.  and S. Wise (2000), "Making the Punishment Fit the Crime: Content-driven Multimedia Development." In D. Bearman and J. Trant (eds.) Museums and the Web 2000: Proceedings. Pittsburgh: Archives & Museum Informatics. available


Pachyderm Screen Templates (PDF 1.1MB)

Cite as:

Samis, P. and L. Johnson, Taking Teaching by the Tusks: Introducing Pachyderm 2.0, in J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Web 2005: Proceedings, Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics, published March 31, 2005 at