Proof of Concept

I am creating a small digitized exhibit of my grandfather's bird carvings. I have already created a "fake" museum called "The Museum of Cottage Industry." This "museum" specializes in traditional hand-crafts: knitting, carving, weaving, etc. For more detailed information see the Needs Analysis page.

I chose this particular project for a variety of reasons:

  1. I get to practice webpage design.
  2. Creating a museum webpage exhibit is something I might be asked to do in the real world. Again, this is good practice.
  3. Since I'm combining this project with my advanced cataloging project, I needed to do something I could actually catalog.
  4. I could potentially show this project to future employers, especially since I am combining it with cataloging.
  5. I love hand-crafts and my grandfather's carvings, and this was a way of integrating both.

This is a good project to do because it is something museums do in the real world. Online exhibits help with publicity and showcase events going on in the museum. This project gives me an opportunity to study other museums' webpages; at the same time it gives me some practice creating pages of my own. I'm not going to try to compete with the Met or the Louvre. I have neither the time, experience, or resources. But I can create an exhibit for a smaller museum and I can learn from the larger museums. The analysis of various museums' pages and fiddling around with my own pages will help me understand what works and what doesn't.

What I've done so far

From the pages I've looked at so far, I've learned that the homepage is the portal to the museum's other pages. It has to be user-friendly. It needs to catch the user's eye, and the user should be able to figure out what everything means quickly. Therefore, I started with the homepage. I still need to do some image mapping, hyper-linking, and fiddle with it in other browsers, but so far I'm pretty pleased with what I have. It's simple (uncluttered, I hope), the lettering is large (maybe too large; I'll be working on that), and the colors are eye-catching. Hopefully this means users would not have trouble finding the correct link.

I used The Minneapolis Institute of Arts homepage as a model. I simplified the design a bit but liked the overall structure of the page.

You can also look at my Table of Contents to see other information I've been working on. For example, here are some digital photographs of my grandfather's carvings. At this point I don't know if these images will be included in the actual exhibit, but they will be a part of the catalog. At the very least you can see what the exhibit is all about.

Finally, although I haven't started on the exhibit pages yet, I have been looking at some museum exhibits. I particularly liked The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Field Museum, and The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History exhibit pages. In the coming weeks I will do an in-depth analysis of these pages, determining what I like and don't like about them (and what I can actually do), and create an exhibit page based on the most user-friendly features. I will also look at the materials I have available to me and see what I can do with the images and stories I have.

Technological Opportunities

Dreamweaver. It would be lovely if I had it, but I don't. While it might make some basic coding easier, I doubt it would help me much on this project. I am, however, relying heavily on photoshop. Learning how to use it has been both a pleasure and a pain. I don't know how to do image mapping or hyper-linking yet, but since I'm looking at this as a learning experience, I'll just say it's one more exciting thing I get to learn.

I suppose I could learn how to do those videos that some exhibits have but since I don't actually have an exhibit to tape and it probably isn't entirely appropriate for my museum anyway, I'm not going to bother.

Design Trade-offs

Since I'm not working on the actual exhibit yet, I don't know. A video, like I said, would be interesting, but it just doesn't make sense for me to try it. Since I want to make the exhibit pages visually interesting, I don't think it matters.

In Conclusion:

When I was in college, I created a small exhibit in a local museum on World War II. My professor took me to a museum in Minneapolis while I working on the project, and the curator there gave me some advice I haven't forgotten: always make sure the exhibit is visually interesting. Don't bog it down with too much text. Therefore, I will probably rely primarily on images, rather than long paragraphs of information. I've noticed that my favorite exhibit pages do this. They have good information, but it is coupled with a lot of eye-catching material. It seems that it is all about striking the appropriate balance. Therefore my goal will be to create pages that are more visual than textual.

Creator: Jenny Freed
Created: 3/27/06