The Components of the Success of a Virtual Museum Exhibition




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The Components of the Success of a Virtual Museum Exhibition


Hookk Daria,

Head of the Department of the Computer and Information Technologies

The State Hermitage Museum

Address: 34, Dvortsovaya nab., Saint-Petersburg, 190000 Russia

Tel.: (812) 710-90-84

E-mail: hookk@hermitage.ru


The State Hermitage museum possesses good experience in producing multimedia production of all types designed by external producers and by museum itself. The work on the newest project “The West European Sculpture of XIX century in Hermitage” required the realization of the term “virtual exposition”. We decided to understand what does it mean and what is the most important to make the product to be successful. By the definitions in Russian encyclopedia [БСЭ, 1971. Т. 5. С. 547-548; БСЭ, 1978. Т. 30. С. 9.] there is difference between “exhibition” (as public demonstration) and “exposition” (as explanation) which consists in additional information being the part of the exposition. This small component differs the exhibition of the museum objects from the exposition in the museum space and makes the idea of this public demonstration more close to the visitors mind1. The term “digital” defines the form of the presentation (with the help of computer technologies). It is possible to make digital video or 3D-model of the existing rooms, that will be only the digital form of the same exhibition. The adjective “virtual” shows on the potential possibility to organize some project. In favorable conditions the project can be accomplished in this case it will stop be virtual, it will become real, and then it will be able to became “digital”. There are numerous projects using words “virtual excursion” but in fact the most part of them are digital catalogues, digital movies, virtual games [Лагутин, 2004; Иванов, 2005; Гук, 2006].

The second question – what are the components of the virtual exposition and the algorithm of its developing? They use to apply already known multimedia technologies. For example, based on the T-Libra software T-Media information system unifies full text and non text resources with possibility of the heterogeneous search [Ляпин, 2005]. The estimation of prices of these special products is between $5000 and $20000 (http://hmtemp.narod.ru/dillers_stoim.htm). On the one hand it is too expensive. On the other hand, a unified interface suits only for the limited number of tasks. The museum visitor who comes to get esthetic impressions and good mood prefers masterpieces. They say that the appearance of computers in museum had no influence on the art itself [Barda, 2006]. The disk designed a part of the exhibition of modern art “Peat Gold” (The State Hermitage Museum, 2004) is a good answer to this hypothesis.

Thus what will be the keystone of success? First of all we determined the components of the virtual exhibitions:

  • conception (title, message),

  • exhibits (objects of art and archive documents),

  • content (digital presentation of objects)

  • the tools for presentation of content (software, hardware and design of user interface).

Conception

The conception of the virtual exhibition is offered by scientific curator and must be realized by multimedia program creators. The virtual exhibition “The West European Sculpture of XIX century in Hermitage” at the Memorial House of H. Brahert in Svetlogorsk develops the idea of two real exhibitions: “Under sky of Italy” (Saint-Petersburg, 1999-2000) and “Under sky of Rome” (Massa, Italy, 2000). This time we have to allow the possibility to acquaint the spectator with difficultly transported exhibits, the part of which is not exhibited in museum rooms.

Exhibits

The aim of report doesn’t consist in discussion concerning the work of the museum research associates responsible for the choosing of objects. It is the same thing that occurs with any real exhibition. Only if the observation of the exhibits is able to provoke the necessary associations in the mind of public, the message concluded in them has a chance to be transmitted. Otherwise that will be only the range of nice things.

Content

The multimedia program consists of the stories about the epoch of classicism, the influence of Italian masters on the West European sculpture and the Hermitage collection of the West European sculpture, and also the creative biographies of 11 great masters and descriptions of the 36 sculptural works from the Hermitage collection. All of them possess their own history and unique shape. The detailed elaboration of the illustrations number resulted in composition of the “scenario” for every work of art personally provided by research associate. New form, based on the up today information and computer technologies, required the radical processing of texts, and also has caused attraction of additional illustrations. Such complicated approach has demanded from developers the reconsideration of volumes of text data and the functions of illustrative materials.

Tools for presentation of content

The developers aimed not only to give the information on museum objects and their creators, but also to allow feeling museum spirit, to feel oneself in exposition space. That was not easy problem to transfer volume and the invoice of a marble sculpture on the flat screen. They decided to refuse such labor-consuming and expensive means as video in favor of more simple, but at the same time more flexible technological decisions. The musical fragments by the composers of XIX century are used. The product may be used for various purposes in Internet and on local touch-screen in museum rooms.

The components of success of the virtual museum exhibition are based on presented components. The keystone of success consists in balance of these components. It may be easily broken, first of all, by professional developers. Perhaps the program in a text mode on an old fashion computer can have not smaller success than the newest plasma panel. The hope that a computer game, for example, the arcade "Tim and Tishka rescue masterpieces of the Hermitage" (OOO " Интерсофт Media ", 2005), will force a youth audience to familiarize with the museum masterpieces is very weak. Following this logic, it is enough to add new variants of "shirts" in a patience well known for users MS Windows "Kerchief".

It is very good when the same product can be used at the same time as a digital catalogue on CD, as the information support in the rooms of the museum and on the WWW-site. The question of the adequacy of used means to the task in view, and if the project is successful, can be solved only by museum visitor (Рощин, 2006). It’s a pity that today we have not results of sociological investigations for our disposal. Studying the new approaches to the museum object presentation the museology is also interested in this kind of data. Even if the product is high appreciated in professional environment of the multimedia producers, the final word will be said by consumers.

Bibliography

Большая советская энциклопедия (БСЭ): в 30 т. — М.: Сов. Энциклопедия.,1969—1978. — Т.1—30.

Гук Д.Ю. Терминологические проблемы музейной информатики / Д.Ю.Гук // Информационные технологии в музее / Государственный Эрмитаж. СПб., 2006. [Вып.2] 1. С. 10-12.

Иванов Д. Музеи в сети Интернет / Д.Иванов // Меценат – 1 — 2005. С.

Лагутин А.Б. Современное состояние российских музейно-образовательных Интернет-ресурсов [Электронный ресурс]// Технологии информационного общества и культура : материалы. конф. EVA 2004. — Электрон. дан. — М. : Центр ПИК, 2004. — 1 электрон. опт. диск (CDROM).

Ляпин С.Х., Куковякин А.В. T-Media: среда для создания виртуальных музейных экспозиций на основе расширения электронной полнотекстовой библиотеки / С.Х.Ляпин, А.В.Куковякин // Культурное многообразие в едином информационном пространстве. Тезисы докладов IX ежегодной конференции АДИТ-2005, Казань, 30 мая - 3июня 2005 г. - Казань, Национальный музей РТ,2005. - с.74-75.

Рощин А.А.Информационное обеспечение музейных экспозиций и запросы посетителей /А.А.Рощин // Информационные технологии в музее / Государственный Эрмитаж. СПб., 2006. [Вып.2] 1. С. 86-89.

Barda J. What can electronic imaging bring to the visual art / J.Barda // EVA’2006 Florence : proceedings. — Bologna: Pitagora, 2006. — pp. 80-86.



1 The term “virtual exhibition” instead of “virtual exposition” is used in english version of report because in english they use these words as synonims.

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