I’m working on the problem of experiential museums and the way they represent themselves on the internet. Though obviously some museums have an impressive web presence on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, etc. I’m specifically interested in museums’ own home websites, where one hopefully gets the clearest message about who these museums are and what it is like being there.
There are a number of art museums that have very impressive websites (Boston’s MFA is top of my list largely due to familiarity, but there are certainly others), however I feel that in general art museums have it easiest, being in general object-centric. (Certainly there are exceptions, but looking at the ‘object of the week’ feature and overall focus of exciting new projects like Open Museum show that I’m not alone in thinking that the ‘stuff’ is what’s central in a lot of these places.) Historic sites have it almost as easy, if they’re largely interested in interpreting material culture.
What about other kinds of museums? How do living history museums, inquiry-learning discovery/science centers, children’s museums, and others that put the experience (theatrical, hands-on, or otherwise) represent themselves in a format which is so removed from their physical presence? Is there a way to capture what it’s like to be there? To simulate it, or at least adequately record and share it? To spread the message and the mission so that when people get to the physical space, they understand why it is the way it is?
Off the top of my head, the Exploratorium seems to have a few of those ‘best practices’ to share, and surely there are others.
Talk to me about museums you think do this well (or if it’s even possible) –I’m all ears.