Research and Collections

Research and Collections

Commercial Considerations in Putting Museums Online – Page 8

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The digital environment is indeed a brave new world for museums. To capitalize on its opportunities requires museums to first appreciate that the audiences they serve are changing. Changing in the expectations they have of cultural institutions. Changing in the ways in which the are inclined to acquire knowledge and experiences, through computer mediation.

Museums have always had a product to offer: knowledge. They have been dedicated to providing that product mostly for free, as a social benefit. But knowledge is never free. There is always a cost to someone, and in the case of most Canadian museums it has been the tax-payer. This situation is now changing, and if museums wish to survive the changes, they will need to find new ways to fund the public services they provide. My institution is convinced that the commercial potential of new technologies such as the World Wide Web for packaging and distributing knowledge provides the key to a viable future for museums in the 21st century.


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