(Appendix F: Transforming the National Museum of American
History, Behring Center)
6. Advanced Information Technology
Advanced information technology is an important tool
for transforming the National Museum of American History into a premier
Information technology is central to providing multiple ways for individual
visitors to personalize their interactions with exhibitions. This will
expand the boundaries of their relationship to the Museum and make their
visits more interesting and valuable. Through the use of information technology,
- Help visitors begin their connection to the Museum before they
come and extend it after they leave.
- Make exhibitions more enticing, exciting, intriguing, surprising,
and satisfying. Exhibitions for the new century must feel like living
and changing environments that respond to visitors as they explore and
interact with them. In the future, the interactive technology itself
will become increasingly invisible as it creates a wider range of sensory
- Enhance the ways that visitors experience the unique objects
that are the core of the Museum's collections. In the future, this will
include not only adding video or computer screens to exhibitions, but
also animating the exhibitions themselves with computer-controlled theater
that involves lighting, sound, and special effects.
Page from the HistoryWired website,
which features over 450 NMAH objects
- Provide access to objects, information, and other Museum assets
that are not on public display, both for visitors who come to the Museum
and those who visit Museum sites on the World Wide Web.
- Provide special ways to make Museum exhibitions and other assets
more valuable to teachers and students at all levels of study. A special
area of focus is providing resources to students for research projects
or for programs such as National History Day and Science Fair. Increasingly,
students turn to the World Wide Web, not local libraries, for research
materials to meet their needs, and NMAH assets should be readily available
- Provide better access to exhibitions for foreign-language visitors
or visitors with various forms of disability.
Kiosk developed especially for the exhibition
The Disability Rights Movement containing all the information
from the exhibition in alternative formats
- Provide personalized information on Museum products and services
that may be of special interest.
To accomplish these goals, the Museum is:
- Expanding our broadband computer network to all the public
spaces in the Museum. Attaching all exhibition computers and audiovisual
equipment to the same network not only dramatically increases the creative
ways we can employ them, but also provides a more effective way of monitoring
their operation. An expanded network will be the essential foundation
for our improved use of information technology in future exhibitions.
- Exploring ways to link our emerging public network with our offerings
on the Internet. For example, in the future we hope visitors will
be able to "tour" exhibitions using remotely controlled video cameras.
We are also interested in encouraging visitors to link pre- and post-visit
experiences on our website with actual Museum visits.
The popular Star-Spangled Banner website includes
- Exploring what devices to link to our broadband network, as
well as how to link them. We want standardized touch screens that can
be used as multimedia interactive labels. An extension of this idea
is using touch screens to activate changes in an exhibition setting:
lights, sound effects, actions. We will be exploring wireless as well
as wired network connections, and remote sensors that will trigger exhibition
- Exploring the use of handheld computer displays to help personalize
visitor experiences, especially the newer devices that have audio and
video capability. Such devices have the potential to extend personalized
experiences to every visitor who walks through a gallery.
Our Museum is an information-rich environment. Advanced
information technology has the power to make exploring that environment
an unforgettable experience -- one that dazzles, inspires, fascinates,
and entertains as it educates.
Table of Contents | Appendix
F.7. Essential Elements -->