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Exploring Collaborative Annotation to Encourage Interaction with Museum Collections (17 Sep 2005)
Unfortunately, museum collections remain relatively inaccessible even when 'made available' through searchable on-line databases. Museum documentation seldom satisfies the on-line access needs of the broad public, both because it is written using professional terminology and because it may not address what is important to or remembered by the museum visitor. For example, an exhibition now on-line at The Metropolitan Museum of Art acknowledges "Coco" Chanel only in the brief, textual introduction (The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2005a). All of the images of her delightful fashion designs are attributed to "Gabrielle Chanel" (The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2005a). Interfaces that organize collections along axes of time or place such of that of the Timeline of Art History (The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2005e) often fail to match users' world-views, despite the care that went into their structuring or their significant pedagogical utility. Critically, as professionals working with art museums we realize that when cataloguers and curators describe works of art, they usually do not include the "subject" of the image itself. Simply put, we rarely answer the question "What is it a picture of?" [1] Unfortunately, visitors will often remember a work based on its visual characteristics, only to find that Web-based searches for any of the things they recall do not produce results.
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