Best of the Web
March 30, 2006
The Museums and the Web conference announced the winners of its Best of the Web competition Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico. All the winners are listed below, but the one that has me really thinking is the winner in the Best Small Site category, the Waterford County Image Archive by the Waterford County Museum in Dungarvan, Ireland.
As one of the judges noted:
I was very taken by the fact that this site was developed with no budget at all, just volunteers and donated expertise and support. Nevertheless it provides an excellent archival resource and a timely reminder that we don't all have the human and financial resources of the big organisations, yet it is still possible to produce useful, good quality resources.
Amen to that. Here at SAAM we've done 'em big, and we've done 'em small, and I'm not sure that from the public's point of view bigger (more effort, broader scope, more features, more cutting edge) is necessarily better. Or at least I'm gradually coming to believe that the road to the best in museum Web sites doesn't have to be a progression of increasingly ambitious initiatives. Rather, it can be about leading the visitor through a series of smaller offerings that provide access to manageable nuggets of primary materials, interpretation, opinion, and fun. Taken separately, these sites are relatively straightforward to construct and consume, but when they are unified by common themes and parallel structures and navigation, and are accessible through a clear and easy to use search, they become greater than the sum of their parts, which is what the Web is all about, eh?
The other thing that interests me about the Waterford County site, and also the Science Buzz site that won Best Innovative and Best Overall site, is that they are both made by--or made whole by--their communities. Waterford County is not only about its community but was made by volunteers from that community, and Science Buzz is most notable for its engaging put-a-human-face-on-science point of view and its vigorous use of forums and queries. The Web's about the people, people: a fundamental truth that we re-learn here almost every day, and a huge part of the motivation for putting this blog in motion in the first place.
So, from makers big and small to you, the people, here are the 2006 Museums and the Web Best of the Web winners:
- Best On-line Exhibition
Curating the City - Wilshire Boulevard: Los Angeles Conservancy
Honorable Mention Monticello Explorer: Thomas Jefferson Foundation
- Best E-Services or E-Commerce Site
Minnesota Historical Society Online Store
- Best Educational Use
Life of a Rock Star: Library and Archives Canada
Honorable Mention Palaeography: Reading old handwriting, 1500-1800: National Archives, UK
- Best Innovative or Experimental Application
Science Buzz: Science Museum of Minnesota.
- Best Museum Professional's Site
International Council of African Museums
- Best Research Site
NYPL Digital Gallery
- Best Small Site
Waterford County Image Archive
- Best Overall Museum Web Site Science Buzz
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