The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Research Week Review: Wednesday, 23rd May 2007 (afternoon session)

By Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert


Jeremy Ottevanger

Jeremy can describe himself as an anatomist, an archaeologist, a museologist and a web-designer. His PhD project seems to combine all of the above.


For the past few years he has been working as a web-designer at the Museum of London. With the help of a collaborative doctoral award from the AHRC, the University of Leicester, Stimulacra and the Museum of London he is now doing a PhD in digital heritage. Jeremy’s research aims at theorising the digital asset as it relates to the museum, and investigating ways in which institutions can assess sustainability needs and implement sustainability strategies in their real-world context. In his presentation, Jeremy explained the aim of his research and defined key terms and concepts such as digital heritage, digital sustainability and preservation. Moreover, he initiated us in his methodology. Jeremy keeps a research diary in the form of a blog, uses reference management tools (XML and Zotero) and bookmarks (del.icio.us). His research methods will include a survey of attitudes to digital material, focus groups aiming at assessing value, analysis and classification of existing resources, the design of planning and evaluation tools, and the evaluation of iterate tools. What was especially interesting was that during the question and answer section of the presentation, under the guidance of Ross Parry, the conversation evolved to a discussion about presentation skills, which was proven to be helpful for everyone.


Alex Whitfield

Alex succeeded in making us consider some of the moral and ethical obligations of museums. She pointed out that, even on the web, we still need to make an effort to respect the museum objects as well as their physical or on-line visitors.


Alex, gave us a tour of the exemplary on-line gallery ‘Sacred’ she was working on and which is part of the British Library. The ‘Sacred’ exhibition is a cross-cultural, on-line exhibition of sacred books. With tools like ‘turning the pages’ the viewer has the opportunity to simulate the actual turning of a page in a book, hear someone reciting the text and use a magnifying glass. Also, the website includes interactive maps, a blog (blog of the month), audio podcasts and some interesting interactive activities. However, wherever we see images of devotional objects online we are faced with moral and ethical questions. Questions like: What are we not mentioning? What are we communicating? How are we going to conceptualize it? Furthermore, museums are encouraging people to use images in different contexts but Alex made us think of what might happen to images when they leave the museum site. For example, as Alex demonstrated, a yahoo image search of the word ‘holy’ presented some troubling results.

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