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ICT diary: Virtual museums

Engaging online content is now seennbsp;as essential to any museum or gallery. But has this made them just another online attraction vying for attention?

At the Learning Power of Museums and Galleries conference at the British Library, Cameron Hawke-Smith of the Cambridge County Folk Museum warned of the danger of placing too much emphasis on the virtual experience. "We are learning less and less with touch and feel, and we are no longer using our hands to make things."

The World Wide Web can whet the appetite, but it is no replacement for the real thing.

The Science Museum is running a pilot called the Online Museum Educators project, which allows teachers to provide materials that reflect their take on a particular exhibit. Such schemes could soon become commonplace if Culture Online, a Department of Culture, Media and Sport project launched last week, has any impact.

It's too early to draw conclusions, but it seems the focus is not on becoming a web portal of heritage sites, but on mixing and matching information from many sources.

A longer version of this appears in Friday magazine in this week's TES

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