MUSM 6110 Seminar in Museum Issues: Technologies in Museums Fall 2007 

Lecture: Mon. 1:00-2:20pm MCOL E280. Lab:  2:30 PM - 3:50 PM ATLAS Rm. 104
INSTRUCTOR is Robert Guralnick

Curator of Zoology, CU Museum of Natural History

Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Ecol. And Evol. Biol
Office: W348 MCOL, Lab: E176 MCOL (more often here than Office)

telephone number: (303) 735-0441
email:, (I use this email to “chat” as well using Gmail chat)

website:, blog:

Office Hour(s): TBA


The main purpose of this jointly sponsored Museum and TAM certificate class is to provide each student with the opportunity to fully explore the emerging links between museums and information technology.  The course is divided into a lecture and laboratory section.  Lecture material will focus on six main areas; 1.) Introduction to museum information; 2.) How information technology devices and processes are crucial for storing, accessing and synthesizing that information; 3.)  Overview of the technologies needed for creating, storing and conserving information (text, images, audio, video, etc)  4.)  How to use re-use data in interactive, accessible, multimedia displays  5.) Methods for developing ideas, content and style around IT and the Internet; 6.) How to fund, manage and evaluate IT in museums.  The laboratory for the first eight weeks of the course are devoted to hands-on learning of software and hardware tools.  The last seven weeks of lab are devoted to further exploration of tools and developing museum projects.  



Concurrent with the lecture and labs, participants in the course will collaborate to develop web-based projects which will be featured on the University of Colorado Museum website.  You may develop a solo project that is of more limited scope for your Project to be discussed and agreed upon by your Instructor, or you may work on ongoing museum projects where your work will have an impact on the Museum.  All projects must include more than simply text and images, but incorporate sound, video, database or other multimedia elements. 

Project 1:   This year’s project is to design web pages for the permanent exhibit galleries.  The three main permanent exhibit galleries are the Paleontology Hall on the main floor and the Biology and Anthropology Halls on the lower floor of the Henderson Building.  Although there is a current web page (, the information on that page is minimal.  You will work to design a series of pages for the hall of your choice that can help general visitors and educators get a sense of what they will experience when visiting.  Note:  The Biology Hall is slated for a major renovation this year, so the web pages for that hall will be particularly challenging given that the new exhibit will be significantly different from the one there now.  For that hall, you will work with the committee doing the redesign to create the most effective site given that the hall is in flux.

Project 2: Work with Elisa Giaccardi PhD, Center for LifeLong Learning & Design, CU-Boulder on the project Community of Soundscapes, which encourages participants from the City of Boulder to capture and share their sonic experiences utilizing a suite of technology tools. The ultimate goal of the project is to create a virtual museum of the sonic environment.  There are two different tasks one could work on for this project.   The first is a re-design of the graphical layout of a web application to capture and share sonic experiences called “” The project will improve students’ knowledge and skills in graphic communication and design for virtual museums and in Web 2.0 applications. Result of the work should be a new graphical layout and possibly ready-to-use CSS.  The second task is production of a short movie that communicates to public audiences the museum application to capture and share sonic experiences called “Community of Soundscapes.” The project will improve students’ knowledge and skills in storyboarding and video production and in communicating museum concepts and projects to public audiences and potential fundraisers.

Project Equipment:  Audio-visual tools and software will be available through the class and campus facilities, especially those in the new ATLAS building.  After proposals have been approved and discussed, student teams will then design an implementation plan and implement the project over the course of the semester.   Project stipulations:  The project must use tools and processes discussed in lecture/lab to enhance access to and storage of museum information. 



Note: Sept 3, 2007 is a holiday

Rob is in Copenhagen, Denmark Sept. 24-29 and in Amsterdam Oct. 16-20th.


DATE:           TOPIC:

August 27 –       Lec: Introduction to Course, Organization, and Main Themes.  Building communities

                           Lab:  Introduction to lab equipment. Hardware, Set up your blog

September 10  -  Lec:  Information Theory, Museums, Metadata, Interfaces 

                            Lab:  Connecting, exploration, required websites, Tools 1 – image capture (Lab H.W. 1)

September 17 –   Lec:  Interfaces cont. – Directions of Information Flow, Storyboarding  (Written Report 1       


                           Lab:  Tools 2: Image editing 2 (Lab H.W.).

September 24 -    Lec:  Guest Lecture Elisa Giaccardi: - Community building via the Web, Virtual Museums

                           Lab:  none 

October 1 –         Lec:   How to design a digital media project. (Project summary assigned)

                           Lab:  Tools 3: Text editing, client/server installations.

October 8         Lec:   How to design digital media projects segueways into How the Internet Works

                          Lab:  Tools 4: Basics of HTML Design (Lab H.W.)

October 15 –      Lec:   How the Web works to markup languages: HTML, SGML, XML, DHTML (Lec H. W.)

                          Lab:  Tools 5: Web programming using JavaScript (Lab H.W.)

October 22–        Lec:  30min. midterm XML and Database Intro.

                            Lab:  30 min lab practical/Tools 6:  Dreamweaver

October 29 –       Lec:   Database segueways to distributed databases, mashups  (Project proposal due)

                           Lab:  Video, Audio editing and streaming, YouTube

November 5 -     Lec:  Web 2.0, Internet Collaboration, Paper Discussion (Lec H.W.)

                          Lab:  Project, Databases, On-line databases,  On-line map tools (GoogleMaps)

November 12  -   Lec:  Managing Information Technology Projects, Paper Discussion

                          Lab:  Project, Content Management Systems, Collaborative tools  (Lab H.W)

November 19 -    Lec:  Intellectual Property and the Internet (Lec H.W.) ,  Paper Discussion

                          Lab:   Projects, Security measures

December 3 -      Lec:  Evaluation of information technology projects,  Promoting websites, Security

                          Lab:  Projects, Designing evaluations, projects questions

December 10 -    Lec:   How to fund IT museum projects/ Projects Symposium. (Project Paper due)

                          Lab:  Building traffic to your site, Project Symposium


            Because this class only meets once a week, it is crucial for students to attend lectures and labs.  The course will have many opportunities for students to participate in discussion topics and such participation is strongly encouraged.  Participation (a combination of self-graded and instructor graded) will be approximately 15% of the final grade in the course.



·         Sections of “Free Culture” by Lawrence Lessig (to be made available)

·                     Assigned paper reading or audio/visual material:

- E. Giaccardi, E. Collective Storytelling and Social Creativity in the Virtual Museum: A Case Study. Design Issues, Vol. 22, No.3 (2006), pp. 29-41.(for Sept. 24th guest lecture by Elisa Giaccardi)

            -  Self-selected articles from Museums and the Web 1999-2007

            -  Other scholarly articles related to museums and digital media

            -  Other forms of media that you think relate to the seminar topic

·                     You are required to keep a blog (more information during class) or podcast.

Blogs:,, and others you find.  Use bloglines!



            Written Reports (3) and Homework: 30%

            Group self-evaluation: 10%

            Class participation:  15%

            Project:  30%

            Mid-term/Lab Practical:  15%*

* yes an honest to goodness midterm that is graded.  It is a great way for me to see how well you understand the concepts and techniques and a great way for you to show off all you have learned. 


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