Beyond MuseumWalls: An Exploration of the Origins and Futures of Web-Based, Museum Education Outreach
Computer-based IMM was born in the mid-1980s, when film, radio, and television converged with computers and gave rise firstly to videodisks, CDROMs, Internet and most recently high definition television. The first computer-based IMM appeared in Australian museums in the mid-1980s and nowproliferate to a pointwhere they constitute exhibitions in their own right.3 The popularity of IMM is no accident and is just as much a consequence of museums’ new visitor orientation as it is technological appetite. What attracts visitors and likewise museums is IMM’s combination of interactivity and sensory appeal. It is now rare to find any display at the Powerhouse Museum without at least one IMM installation. However, as we move into the 21st century, the impact of IMM on the core business of museums is becoming more profound. Six years after the development of hypertext transmission protocol (HTTP),4 museums all over the world clambered aboard the latest IMM juggernaut-the web. Museums’ were willing to embrace the web for it offered the tantalizing opportunity to simplify and expand distribution networks, as well as lower costs for scholarly outreach. Most public museums in Australia are charged with the social responsibility of engaging as many and varied an audience as possible. Many of our museums are large, centralized entities situated in the middle of major cities and so they have had to tour exhibitions or publish and distribute their research, in order to capture these audiences. These are often expensive and time-consuming undertakings that in Australia are further hampered by the vast physical distances touring exhibitions have to traverse.
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