PaperCarla Everstijn, Kent State University, USA
This study examines the role cultural heritage professionals envision for their institutions’ digital presence, finding that far from being secondary to the physical institutions they represent, cultural heritage websites are experiences in and of themselves. Through digital-only resources and experiences, cultural heritage institutions are making possible a “visit” not replicable in the physical museum. Many galleries, libraries, archives, and museums are attempting to engage online visitors in a variety of ways, creating opportunities for user participation and personalization of their experience. In addition, because of their roles in managing, disseminating, and curating information, cultural heritage professionals are in the position through these online visits to influence the collective memory of society. What opportunities are cultural heritage professionals creating on these sites, and how are visitors engaging with them? This study presents the results of exploratory interviews with cultural heritage professionals about their expectations for user participation and how they envision their institutions’ digital presence. It includes a discussion of the implications for shaping the collective memory of society and directions for future research.
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