* Virtual Library * Museums

Museums and the World Wide Web

You are virtual "visitor" number: ?

Information on
museums is held as part of the World Wide Web (WWW) global hypermedia Virtual Library under the following "URL" (Uniform Resource Locator):
The WWW Virtual Library museums pages (VLmp) includes hyperlinks to other museums around the world and also virtual exhibits only available on the network from countries as far apart as France, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, the UK and USA. New exhibits are being added all the time. The possibilities for museums to present a proportion of their collections and exhibitions remotely around the world is as yet largely untapped, but is rapidly growing. The Smithsonian Institution, the San Francisco Exploratorium, the UK Natural History Museum and the French Ministry of Culture provide some examples. The "information superhighway" is likely to have an increasingly significant effect on museums of national and international status in the future, allowing resources to be made available remotely throughout the world.

For those interested in statistics, currently there are around 35 million people with Internet access and the number is doubling each year. WWW usage has been estimated to be increasing at 1% per day! The museums page is accessed around 1000 times a day (as of February 1995) and is easily the most popular page at our site. It is also one of the most popular pages in the WWW Virtual Library, normally in the top 10 for which statistic are available. The number of visits has been doubling approximately every three months, to give an idea of the rate of expansion.

Note also that newer WWW client programs such as netscape allow convenient proxy cacheing of Web pages at a local site to save on network usage, so the actual number of recent visits are probably somewhat more than the figures below suggest, despite the apparent recent slight drop in figures. The main page has also been reduced in size and the main list split into two lists of approximately equal size consisting of the USA (4,644 visits in April) and the rest of the world (5,601 visits in April 1995). The combined accesses for these three pages was 39,703 in April 1995.

|       |   No of   | Traffic |   Page |
| Month |  "visits" |  MBytes | Kbytes |
|  8/94 |     3,459 |      66 |     19 |
|  9/94 |     8,749 |     165 |     19 |
| 10/94 |    12,575 |     147 |     12 |
| 11/94 |    14,997 |     389 |     26 |
| 12/94 |    17,284 |     337 |     20 |
|  1/95 |    21,143 |     545 |     26 |
|  2/95 |    24,482 |     693 |     28 |
|  3/95 |    32,251 |   1,085 |     33 |
|  4/95 |    29,458 |     274 |      9 |
|  5/95 |    25,436 |---------+--------+
|  6/95 |    23,298 |
|  7/95 |    20,534 |
|  8/95 |    19,562 |
|  9/95 |    21,204 |
| 10/95 |    20,804 |
| 11/95 |    26,087 |
| 12/95 |    29,463 |
|  1/96 |    32,389 |
|  2/96 |    43,849 |
|  3/96 |    40,817 | *
|  4/96 |    40,909 |
|  5/96 |    49,926 |
|  6/96 |    43,408 |
|  7/96 |    46,287 |
|  8/96 |    48,456 |
|  9/96 |    50,878 |
| 10/96 |    62,127 |
| 11/96 |    63,571 |
| 12/96 |    61,520 |
|  1/97 |    69,372 |
|  2/97 |    71,859 |
|  3/97 |    71,842 |
|  4/97 |    67,838 |
|  5/97 |    61,848 |
|  6/97 |    59,749 |
|  7/97 |    60,665 |
|  8/97 |    58,534 |
|  9/97 |    68,955 |
| 10/97 |    87,751 |
| 11/97 |    85,043 |
| 12/97 |    79,756 |
| Total | 1,778,137 |
Note: In April 1995 the pages were split up and the traffic in Mbytes no longer recorded.

* In March 1996 visitor statistics began to be collected using a graphical counter program. Visitors not using a graphical browser (a minority) may not be counted, but visitors to mirror sites and those not necessarily using the main VLmp page are counted.

Fuller information on the VLmp access statistics for April 1995 and the week of 28 April - 4 May 1996 are available. If your WWW browser supports tables, see statistics in a nicely formatted tabular form. See also access statistics till February 1997 as a graphical table.


The WWW Virtual Library museums pages have been mentioned in the following publications and on-line articles/reviews:
  1. Worldwide Web, Frances Bycroft (ed.). Museums Journal, Documentation news section, page 38, December 1994.

  2. Museums and the Internet. MDA OUTlook quarterly newsletter, page 2, December 1994.

  3. Virtual Museums: The Web Experience, Jason Argoski, 1995.
    An on-line article including hyperlinks to virtual museums.

    Finding Virtual Museums
    There are a number of sources for finding museums on the Web. The oldest and most well-known list is the Museums section of the Virtual Libraries project maintained by Jonathan Bowen.

  4. Exhibitions in the ether, by Jonathan Bowen. The Times Higher Education Supplement, Multimedia features, page xii, 10 March 1995.

  5. Museums go on-line to the world. Oxford University Gazette, 125(4358):886, 16 March 1995.

  6. The future of history, by Tom Standage. The Internet Magazine .net, issue 5, pages 53-56, April 1995.
    This article examines on-line museums, especially in the UK.

  7. MDA World Wide Web Pages, by Tony Gill. MDA OUTlook quarterly newsletter, page 2, Spring 1995.

  8. The future of history, by Wendy Grossman. The Guardian newspaper, OnLine section, pages 4-5, 4 May 1995.

  9. Developing the art of easy access, by Wendy Grossman. The Guardian newspaper, OnLine section, page 7, 15 June 1995.

  10. Review of The World Wide Web (WWW) Virtual Library: Museums page, Info-Filter Project, Jaye Lapachet, Librarian, Avery & Associates, San Francisco, CA, USA, 29 June 1995.

  11. Information Superhypeway, by Tony Gill. MDA OUTlook quarterly newsletter, page 1, Summer 1995.

  12. Collections of collections, by Jonathan Bowen. Museums Journal, 95(8):24-25, August 1995. See also Surf's Up, by Robert Mason, pages 22-23 and Unravelling the Web, by Jonathan Bowen, page 23.

  13. The Virtual Library of Museums, by Jonathan Bowen. In G. Day (ed.), Proc. Museum Collections and the Information Superhighway, pages 37-39, Science Museum, London, UK, 10 May 1995. See also slides.

  14. The world on the Web by Anthony Hamber. The Times, Interface section, page 10, 20 September 1995.

  15. Collections on the superhighway, by John Griffin. Heritage Development, pages 13-15, June 1995.

  16. Using the Multimedia Tools of the Internet for Teaching History in K-12 Schools, by Susan Patterson and Linda Swanson. Computers and History 95 Conference: Information Technologies for History Education Ministère de l'Éducation Nationale et de la Formation Professionelle Centre Universitaire de Luxembourg, 20-21 April, 1995. See Information Collection section.

  17. The Netropolitan Top 10, New Scientist, October 1995.

  18. The World Wide Web Virtual Library of Museums, by Jonathan Bowen. Information Services & Use, 15(4):317-324, 1995.
    Also in James Hemsley (ed.), Proc. EVA'95: Electronic Imaging & the Visual Arts, pages 105-114, National Gallery, London, UK, 27 July 1995. Brameur Ltd., Clarke House, 2 Kings Road, Fleet, Hants GU13 9AD, UK. ISBN 0-99519980-7-2.

  19. On-line museums are state-of-the-art sites, by Leslie Miller. USA Today, Monday, 16 October 1995.

  20. Art in Cyberspace: Can It Live Without a Body? by Steven Henry Madoff. Includes Where to Browse For Art on the Internet. The New York Times, pages 1,34-35, Sunday, 21 January 1996.
    World Wide Web Virtual Library Museums Pages,
    An easy-to-scan, well-indexed directory of museums worldwide.

  21. Virtual museums by Jonathan Bowen. The University of Reading Bulletin, No. 291, page 19, March 1996.

  22. Virtual library museums pages, The University of Reading Research Digest, Summer 1996.

  23. Code for a Grecian Urn by Lee Marshall. Wired Magazine, UK edition, pages 75-78,102,104, September 1996.

    A triumph of form over content
    However much content you amass, it's only half the story. There has to be more to a virtual museum than content. And in some places there already is. Jonathan Bowen's excellent Virtual Library of Museums will take you to some of them. The site, designed by a computer engineer whose wife is a curator, is one of those satisfyingly complete works born of personal enthusiasm that make Web surfing so rewarding. As well as museums, there are major museum associations and those acronym-rich international heritage initiatives. It's an essential stopping off point for anyone who wants to get some idea of how single museums are beginning to reach out through the Net. It's a doorway into many, many rooms.

  24. Making the Internet Work for Museums by Sue Gordon, National Museum of Science and Industry, Science Museum, London, 1996. Published in association with the Science Museum by the Museum Documentation Association, Cambridge, UK. ISBN 0-905-96399-7.

  25. The MDA Guide to Computers in Museums by Tony Gill, 1996. Published by the Museum Documentation Association, Cambridge, UK. ISBN 0-905-96397-0.

  26. New developments in the ICOM Internet Resource by Cary Karp. Includes The Virtual Library Museums Pages on ICOM's World Wide Web site by Jonathan Bowen. ICOM News, 49(4):10, 1996.

  27. On-line Museums by Jonathan Bowen. Revue: Informatique et Statistique dans les Sciences Humaines, 32(1-4):29-44, 1996. CIPL-LASLA, Liège, Belgium. Invited paper.

  28. The World Wide Web and the Virtual Library Museums Pages by Jonathan Bowen. European Review, Interdisciplinary Journal of the Academia Europaea. 5(1):89-104, January 1997. Invited paper.

  29. Untangling the web, by James Johnson. Museums Journal, 97(4):32-33, May 1997.

    The Virtual Library Museums Page is an excellent directory of museums on the Web supported by the International Council of Museums. This is the most comprehensive directory of museum web sites available and is regularly maintained.

  30. The Virtual Library museums pages (VLmp): Whence and Whither? by Jonathan Bowen. In David Bearman and Jennifer Trant (eds.), Museums and the Web, 1997: Selected Papers, pages 9-25, Archives & Museum Informatics, 5501 Walnut Street, Suite 203, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15232-2311, USA, 1997. (Invited speaker, honorary chairman and workshop presenter.)

  31. Tell me what you want, what you really, really want: A look at Internet user needs, K. Futers. Proc. Electronic Imaging and Visual Arts (EVA), Paris, France, September 1997. Varsari Enterprises, Alexander House, 50 Station Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 1BG, UK.

  32. Working the Web, Jonathan Bowen, Jim Bennett, and Ian Morrison. Museums Journal, 97(11):28-29, November 1997. Based on a presentation at the 102nd Museums Association conference, Harrogate, UK, October 1996.

  33. Virtual Visits to Virtual Museums, Jonathan Bowen, Jim Bennett and James Johnson. In Jennifer Trant and David Bearman (eds.), Proc. Museums and the Web 1998, Toronto, Canada, 22-25 April 1998. CD-ROM, Archives & Museum Informatics, 5501 Walnut Street, Suite 203, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15232-2311, USA, 1998. See also slides.

  34. 24-hour access backed, Lucy Carrington. Museums Journal, 98(5):13, May 1998.

  35. Time for Renovations: A Survey of Museum Web Sites, Jonathan Bowen. In David Bearman and Jennifer Trant (eds.), Museums and the Web 1999: Selected papers from an international conference, New Orleans, USA, 11-14 March 1999, pages 163-172, Archives & Museum Informatics, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 1999.

See also:
Technical information: The page may be accessed on the global Internet "network of networks" by WWW client programs such as netscape or mosaic under window systems (e.g., X) and ! lynx on ASCII terminals under Unix. Client programs are also available for use under MS-Windows on PCs and on Apple Macintosh computers. Access is also possible via a modem to an Internet site and such services are now available commercially.

WWW pages include underlined phrases which are hyperlinks to other URLs. These may be anywhere in the world on the Internet computer network, accessible via anonymous FTP (File Transfer Protocol), NNTP (USENET on-line newsgroups), Gopher (menu selection), WAIS (database), Telnet (remote interactive session), or WWW's own HTTP protocol, using HTML, based on the widely used SGML mark-up language. As well as HTML format, files may be in PostScript (formatted documents), GIF (colour graphical images), XBM (monochrome images), JPEG (compressed colour images, especially photographs), MPEG (moving colour images), Sun audio (sounds), etc., and may be compressed using common utilities such as compress and gzip to save disk space. Different formats are handled by appropriate programs on the client machine.

Interaction is possible via "forms" pages in which menus, buttons and text boxes are presented to the user for selection and completion. Arbitrary programs may be run at the remote server site depending on the results of these interactions, thus enabling the possibility of remote interactive exhibits. Java programming now promises increasing interactivity in Web pages.

Prof. Jonathan Bowen, London South Bank University, UK.

Please contact Jonathan Bowen if you know of relevant on-line information which could be added to the page. Information on other published articles mentioning the WWW Virtual Library museum pages would also be of interest.