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Common Threads: Collections and Connections in Cyberspace

Objective

The project will contribute to cultural development of the EC by ensuring its museums are exploiting the potential of information technologies to improve access and visualisation of artefacts in collections. Eight museums have a requirement to provide access to cultural content using the World Wide Web, enabling the user to explore costume and textile artefacts by a variety of themes. 136 objects will be captured in digital format, 80 in 2D, & 56 in 3D. These images will be combined with interpretative information, held in a database. A prototype interface will be developed relying on visual keys to lower language barriers, which will enable the user to access the cultural information in a new and entertaining way. The interface will use a novel combination of existing technologies, which will further developed. It will be tested by a variety of targeted social/cultural groups. Emphasis on visual interactivity lowering language barriers will encourage wider European participation.

Objectives:
1. To develop a prototype interface for accessing cultural content, using a real life application, comprising 136 costume & textile items from 8 museums;
2. To provide access to those who find it difficult to visit museums due to social exclusion, disability and geographic remoteness;
3. To support teachers by raising the design and communication standards in educational web sites for museums;
4. To enable people to explore selected items and use them as a source of inspiration for their own work;
5. To increase safe and secure access to objects which are often too fragile to display for long periods;
6. To show how geographically separate collections can be brought together to create a rich resource for lifelong learning, which is structured yet, personal in theme;
7. To improve access to multi-cultural content by using visual navigation tools to break down barriers and reduce information exclusion;
8. To disseminate the experience and knowledge gained from the trial, to other organisations across Europe.

Work description:
This project aims to contribute to the exploitation, by museums, of information communication technologies to improve access to, and visualisation of, artefacts and collections. The trial involves a 10-member consortium consisting of a co-ordinator, 8 users and one supplier. They have a specific, real life requirement for an online interface to provide access to cultural content comprising objects from their collections, both on display and in store. A prototype interface will be developed for access using the internet World Wide Web, relying on iconisation and visual keys to lower language barriers, it will enable the user to explore costume and textile artefacts by four major themes. A sample of 136 objects, selected by museum staff, will be captured in digital format, 80 in 2D, & 56 in 3D. The digital images will be combined with interpretative information, held in a database. A navigation tool will be provided to enable the user to access the cultural information in a new and entertaining way. A novel combination of existing technologies will be used and they will be further developed, to realise the users' needs. The prototype interface will be tested by the users and targeted social/cultural groups, with a variety of user profiles (sex, age, social background etc) to ensure that it is fit for purpose. The emphasis on visual interactivity to lower language barriers will encourage wider European participation.

Milestones:
- 136 objects and 31 vistas prepared, researched and digitised, to the stated quality level;
- A prototype interface ready for user testing, meeting the user requirements and ready to be tested by typical user groups;
- Successful transfer of the technology to others in the cultural sector throughout Europe;
- Create a demand for the application and services throughout Europe;
- Production of the final evaluation report. All objectives will have been met and lessons learned.

Funding Scheme

ACM - Preparatory, accompanying and support measures

Coordinator

WEST MIDLANDS REGIONAL MUSEUMS COUNCIL
Address
Hanbury Road, Stoke Prior
B60 4AN Bromsgrove
United Kingdom

Participants (9)

BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM & ART GALLERY
United Kingdom
Address
Chamberlain Square
B3 3DH Birmingham
DATAVISTA LIMITED
United Kingdom
Address
202 High Street, Silverdale
ST5 6LR Newcastle Under Lyme
HERBERT ART GALLERY
United Kingdom
Address
Jorden Well
CV1 5QP Coventry
HEREFORD HERITAGE SERVICES
United Kingdom
Address
Broad Street
HR4 9AU Hereford
STAFFORDSHIRE ARTS & MUSEUMS SERVICE
United Kingdom
Address
Milford
ST17 0XB Stafford
THE POTTERIES MUSEUM & ART GALLERY
United Kingdom
Address
Bethesda Street, Hanley
ST1 3DW Stoke On Trent
WALSALL MUSEUM & ART GALLERY
United Kingdom
Address
Lichfield Street
WS1 1TR Walsall, West Midlands
WARWICKSHIRE COUNTY MUSEUMS
United Kingdom
Address
St John's
CV34 4NF Warwick
WORCESTERSHIRE COUNTY MUSEUM
United Kingdom
Address
Hartlebury Castle, Hartlebury
DY11 7XZ Kidderminster