WA Museum's new website: collections, interactives and ribbons

Morgan Strong's blog | Created 9 years ago

Hello there. This is Morgan, and I’m the manager of web services over here at the Western Australian Museum.

We’ve just released this brand new website for the Museum. There’s a lot more information about our fantastic curatorial staff, our huge collections (4.5 million artefacts and counting) and also, this website heralds the introduction of some online features like vodcasts, online exhibitions and photo galleries.

This blog is all about our developments to the website, some of the ideas we’ve come up with, new technologies and also, broadcasting some ideas for discussion with our audience.

But before I get too carried away with my first post, I think you should get to know a little bit about me. I’m a 27 man-child who’s engaged to a beautiful parasitologist, I love my guitar and the internet, and I’m originally from Lismore, NSW – though I’ve been living in Brisbane for the last eight years. I now live in the very sunny city of Perth and head a small web team that develops and maintains a range of web services on behalf of the Museum. But that’s enough about me.

So… This is the new Western Australian Museum website. Thus far, I hope you like it. I believe it’s a massive improvement on the old one, with up-to-date information, loads of collection information and highlights, comprehensive listings of events and exhibitions, rich media such as vodcasts, and heaps of photo galleries and online exhibitions. On top of this important Museum information, we’ve developed some new features that are a bit experimental – such as the “events ribbon” found on the home page of the website.

With the “events ribbon” (PS – if you’re using IE6 or IE7 you probably won’t see it, maybe try Firefox for a richer web experience), we’ve mapped all of the Museum’s events into six lines – one representing each of the physical Museum branches (Perth, Maritime, Shipwrecks, Albany, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie-Boulder). Each line represents the next 30 days, with a day stretching for exactly 1/30th the length of the ribbon. On top of these lines we’ve overlaid all of the events that occurring in the Museum, with a darker colour representing more events occurring on that day.

Also, we’ve weighted the types of events into the ribbon. An important event, such as the international exhibition A Day in Pompeii, will have a heavier colour and rise to the top of the stack. Also short events, like public lectures or school holiday activities stack to the top of the list so that the shorter events will still be given due prominence.

When you scroll over the ribbon, you’ll notice that as soon as you stop moving your mouse, a little box appears revealing what event that particular box represents. As soon as you click on an event, the ribbon expands to reveal full details about that particular event.

Underneath the expanded full event listing, the branch-specific ribbon is unstacked, with all events accessible and can be browsed individually.

In the future, we plan to also map related events that are happening outside the Museum, but occur in related areas. For example, you can view an event at the Museum in Perth and explore events that are also occurring at the nearby Art Gallery in a similar time period.

I believe that the ribbon concept is a unique and admittedly, unusual way of navigating multiple events. However, once you start navigating, it is quite amazing how quickly you can explore a large number of events.

Now over to you. What’s your thoughts on the ribbon? What type of extra functions would you like us to include? Do you think we should also incorporate our collections into it (eg, relating collection highlights to the exhibition they are on show)?