Thanks for the interest in the awards and for making me feel part
of the community in Scotland.
The Best of the (museum) Web award ended up being a long saga
and the final awards were a result of various compromises
between the judges. There are several things we didn't like about
the procedure and numerous problems that cropped up in the
process (e.g. the sterile division in categories that didn't work well
in practice, the largely North American nominations that were also
reflected in the winners, the way the event is advertised, etc) and
are planning to write a paper about all this explaining our decisions
and including our suggestions of how to improve things.
I am very grateful that you nominated a web site (this was not one
of those that I looked myself, but was allocated to two other judges
and in the end did not pass to the last finalists list to be looked by
all of us). Unfortunately you were one of the very few that actually
nominated sites and the number of good quality candidates was
very small. We questioned why we received so few nominations
outside North America and Europe and are open to suggestions on
how to change this. Also, the final winners are largely from large,
well-resourced institutions, not reflecting the reality of the majority
of the museum web world. Among the suggestions we want to
make is for having perhaps a special award for smaller institutions
with limited funding.
What we said in the awards ceremony in New Orleans (though
even that was problematic, as due to technical problems with the
internet connection, our panel session was cut down to half an
hour, which left very little time to explain our decisions and open
the discussion) is that none of the winners represents the perfect
web site, which we don't think exists, but that there were several
features that we liked that led us to give them the award.
CyberAtlas won the prize for online exhibition, the category that is
supposed to be more connnected with special effects, design, the
bells and whistles kind of thing. Notice that the award went
together with an honourable mention to another site with very rich
content. We felt that it was interesting to see the invitation from
the Guggenheim to different groups of people to "map" cyberspace
and try to make sense and give meaning to the vast amounts of
information that there is out there. Some of us argued that the
selection of the sites and the combination of links represents
intellectual effort (despite the annoying fact that some of the links
Research award - may I point out that we had less than 12
nominations for this category? Apart from the very rich content of
the National Museum of American Art, you do have the databases
of sculpture and paintings, the several engines even separate ones
for specific online exhibitions, parts of an online journal, features
that can assist research.
Overall winner - The Walker Art Center is doing some very
interesting things in several fields: education, online exhibitions,
digital art, outreach, etc. The problem with the connection and the
long loading time is not only due to the way they have designed
their pages. This was a symptom of most of the American sites
that the judges (and all viewers) based in Europe had(ve) to face.
A more detailed explanation of our decisions will follow (hopefully
soon) in our article. We were thinking of having an online version
too, ideally linking to it from the page with the awards results.
In the meantime, we have promised David Bearman and Jennifer
Trant that we will provide a few lines about each award, explaining
the good points of the site, to be included in that same awards
It was good to see some friendly faces from the UK in New
Orleans, despite the trouble some of us had travellling back due to
bad weather in Washington.
Overall, I thought that the conference was very interesting with
some good papers and workshops. I will try not to make this
message any longer. Some recurring themes during the
- dublin core and SGML (use of international standard to ensure
that museum documentation and information can interroperate with
libraries, archives, various finding aids, search engines, etc.)
- increasing number of projects, mainly in the USA, involving
curatorship of online art
- experimentation of museums (for the few that can afford it at the
moment) with live broadcasting (e.g. Exploratorium in San
Francisco, Kunsthalle in Bonn) that still requires enormous
bandwidth, despite some interesting applications
- interest in evaluation of the use museum sites (some tentative
There were rumours of the next Museum and the Web being broken
down in two sections, a North American one in autumn and a
European one in spring, but nothing officials has been announced
good to see that somebody cared about all this work that took all
the judges more than 6 months and ruined our computers (apart
from our weekends ...) with all the plugins we had to download...
Date sent: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 13:11:15 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Forget the Oscars.....
From: Ian Morrison <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Send reply to: [log in to unmask]
> Our own community has recently announced its own "Best of the Web" awards
> (at the recent Museums and the Web bash in N'awleans). See
> for details.
> Am I alone in being baffled by the results?
> I had high hopes of the excellent jury, co-ordinated by our very own
> Maria Economou (if it is not too presumptuous to claim her for
> Looking first at the winner of the "Online Exhibition" category - the
> Guggenheim Museum's "Cyberatlas" site, I found it pretentious,
> arty and confusing. Those are just the printable terms that came
> into my head on looking at the site. Just to take one example of
> unneccessary tricksiness, I felt it would be more comfortable to turn my
> monitor on its side to read the commands on the navigation bar ;-)
> Then I had a look at the "Best Research Site" - the National Museum of
> American Art. Or I tried to have a look at it - it was so slow our proxy
> server gave up the ghost (and this before most of the USA is awake).
> Similarly the Walker Art Center ("Best Overall Site"). In fact the only
> result I would not quibble with is "Best Museum Professionals' Site" - CHIN.
> But honestly, the Guggenheim's site demonstrates all that I feel is worst
> about really BAD museum web sites (all style and no content), and the other
> two could be the greatest things since sliced bread, but it is all for nought
> if they are going to be so slow to download.
> Just my opinions, of course......
> (and sour grapes, because the museum I nominated - Colorado Springs
> Pioneers Museum - got nothing!).
> Ian O. Morrison, Scottish Museums Documentation Officer &
> SCRAN Data Co-ordinator. http://www2.scran.ac.uk/staff/ianm/
> -100,000 lemmings can't be wrong......-
Dr Maria Economou, Lecturer in New Technologies for the Humanities
Humanities Advanced Technology & Information Institute (HATII)
University of Glasgow
11, University Gardens
GLASGOW G12 8QH, UK
Tel: +44-141-330 3843 [log in to unmask]
Fax: +44-141-330 3788 http://www.hatii.arts.gla.ac.uk/