Access to the archives? Art museum websites and online archives in the public domain
Pastore, Erica M.
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This thesis discusses art museum websites and the online archive as they relate to the public mission of American art museums and the increase of public access as a primary goal within the museum community. The historical development of the term, access, and the museum's relationship to the public in Europe and the United States is discussed in order to demonstrate the evolution of the public art museum and its continual, ambiguous conception of the relationship between audience and institution. This thesis reveals the extension of this ambiguity from the traditional to the virtual museum space, using examples of online archives that illustrate constructed barriers to effective access by the public. As potential solutions, the importance of user-evaluation and institutional collaboration are discussed as ways in which museums can address many of the challenges to creating effective online resources and positively empower the virtual experience of the museum visitor.