UK Museums and the Web, 2001

organised by hosted by co-ordinated by
MCG sci mus nhm
The Museums Computer Group The Victoria and Albert Museum
The Science Museum
The Natural History Museum

This was a free, national conference for those involved in managing or developing UK museum, gallery and archive web sites, held at The V&A, and Science Museums, London on Thursday 15 November 2001

Thank you all for making this day a great success!

The Big Picture
Museums, galleries and archives hold a vast array of artifacts and information and we provide some of the most interesting content on the web. This is a chance for the UK museum web community to meet up and discuss, in depth, the Big Picture; developments in the technologies, standards and concepts that we use to communicate our content to the world. This is not just aimed at techies, but all those involved in getting museum content online.
UK Museums and the Web was sponsored by:
KE EMuHCSdalMWResearch

…with generous help from the Natural History Museum, Imperial War Museum and Science Museum.


David Dawson, ReSource [Full presentation]
Museums, eGovernment and Culture Online In a world that is full of initiatives, such as NOF-digitise, e-Content and e-Europe, there are beginning to moves towards an agreed technical environment in which museums will operate. The work of the Office of the e-Envoy is starting to impact upon all of us, and it is important that we begin to follow these directions now, rather than wait until it is too late. The drive towards e-Government is also opening up new opportunities, and the setting up of Culture Online will offer museums and other cultural sector organisations an opportunity to embrace and benefit from the e-Government agenda.



Brian Kelly, UKOLN [Full presentation]
Benchmarking Museum Websites

This talk will describe a survey of UK Museum Web sites. A number of Web-based tools will be used to audit UK Museum Web sites for features such as size of site, compliance with standards, accessibility of service, coverage by search engines, etc. The results of the surveys will be interpreted and recommendations provided if appropriate. The talk will also describe the limitations of the survey process and provide advice on further more comprehensive surveys.



Accessibility and the Web [Full presentation]
Nick Poole, ICT Adviser, Resource

In an age in which more and more museums are turning to the Internet as a means of getting their message across, the issue of technological, physical and intellectual accessibility online is more important than ever. A recent recommendation from the European Union has indicated that all public sector websites in the UK should meet Web Accessibility Initiative guidelines, and UK legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act is creating an information environment in which inaccessibility is no longer an option.
But what does web accessibility really mean? How can you make use of exciting new Internet technologies without excluding audiences from your website? And how much will it cost? This presentation will suggest a number of inexpensive tools and techniques for the creation of accessible online information resources. We will consider the importance of information architecture and take a look at how universal design for accessibility can save you money and build you a better site.



Web Legal Issues [Full presentation: old browsers new browsers]
Justin Ellis, DMH

DMH ( is a law firm of more than 100 fee-earners, including 33 partners, based in London, Crawley and Brighton, with associated offices throughout Europe and North America. The firm’s Innovation & Media Group is recognised as one of the leading practices in the south of England in the areas of internet and technology law.

Justin Ellis is a partner in DMH’s Innovation & Media Group, and was one of the early practitioners of internet law, having previously been with the technology law department of one of the major City and international law firms.

The ease of worldwide communication and duplication afforded by the internet brings numerous legal risks. Justin will highlight some of those risks and suggest how to start minimising them. Topics to be covered include:

  • Structuring online contracts
  • Complying with the Distance Selling Regulations
  • Data Protection law
  • Copyright, trade mark and domain name issues
  • Key points for website design/hosting agreements
  • Risks associated with employee usage of the internet and email


Next generation developments in the real web world [Full presentation: old browsers new browsers]
Chris Meaney, Harvard Consultancy Services

The talk will cover current trends on the Internet and future developments which will have an impact on museums and the broader user community. Wherever possible, this will be illustrated with examples, statistics or quotes from well known publications or authorities. The talk will cover “Internet” in its broadest sense, including information on Digital TV and mobile devices and the role that they are likely to play in the future.


Online thesauri and information engineering [Full presentation]
Richard Light, Consultant

Did you know that there is no standard method of “delivering” a thesaurus in machine-readable format? While this isn’t a fact of major significance to users of the Web, it does underline a collective failure to put controlled vocabularies to work on our behalf. If we had a standard method of representing thesauri and classification systems in a machine-processible format such as XML, and they were permanently available on the Web, it would open up new possibilities for data capture and retrieval. This paper will explore mechanisms for harmonising XML-encoded vocabularies, and show how authority information can be incorporated into your own projects. This leads on to the possibility of museums, and partner organisations, developing a network of XML-encoded resources.
Broadcasting, Museums and the Web
Lucy Lamble, BBC

How TV and museums may work together in new media, followed by demonstrations and a questions and answers session.



The web as a publishing medium or social space [Full presentation]
Mike Ellis, Science Museum

From ‘brochureware’, where websites have just re-purposed their existing marketing material, to fully integrated and interactive solutions where the content is driven solely by users, many different models of website strategic delivery have been attempted across the internet. Some sites have distinct ‘communities’; others are more about the outwards push of information. Which model makes for the best user experience? Is there a balance to be had between the two extremes? How do we manage the requirements of the institution with those of the user? This discussion focus around some leading websites at either end of the spectrum, examine their pros and cons, and put them into the context of online museums.

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