Creating a Virtual Museum

museum building

Excerpt from the original 1999 website:

Ah, the museum visit. The bustling crowds, the aching feet, the skulking Bohemians, the screeching kids, the sticky fingers, the repressed, would-be paleontologists singing contagious little musical numbers. You know you love it!

But be honest, how many museums have you been to in the past year? How many are still on the must-do list, in another city, in another country, not accessible to the handicapped, only open on Thursdays? And just what percentage of any museum's collection do you really want to see, even if by some miracle you somehow manage to get in?

Enter the Cal State East Bay Anthropology Department's Virtual Museum Experiment. Throughout the 1999 - 2000 academic year, students enrolled in Anthropology 3710 will be working tirelessly to catalog, photograph, and design an online dimension to the C. E. Smith Museum of Anthropology which will be accessible on the web at any time by professionals, students, and the merely curious.

During Fall Quarter, 1999 students in Anthro 3710 converted the museum gallery on the 4th floor of Meiklejohn Hall into a temporary virtual reality workshop with the installation of digital cameras, lighting equipment, a virtual reality object apparatus, and several Macintosh computers. Most of the Fall work was experimental and devoted to climbing the rather steep technology learning curve but a few of the pilot projects can be seen here and on the following pages. The Winter, 2000 class will refine and enlarge upon the work pioneered in the Fall.

In addition to simple browsing of the catalogue, once the project is complete online visitors will be able to sort and select subsets of the collection by geographical location, ethnicity, type of artifacts, etc. And thanks to the wonders of digital virtual reality visitors also will be able to "pick up" many of the artifacts and examine them from all angles as you will see on the following pages.

The students chose to focus their work on just three of the museum's many collections.

For a virtual peek at the museum's African collection.

For a preview of our Precolumbian collection.

In order to examine a few of the artifacts from the Gold Rush era ship Rome.

The museum gallery itself, located in the northwest corner of Meiklejohn Hall, will, of course, continue to showcase changing exhibits of real artifacts on-site. The museum gallery will resume normal operations during the 2000-2001 academic year.

We hope that our Virtual Museum will vastly expand the accessibly of our collections to the general public and that you will periodically check this page to see how our work develops during Winter 2000.