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Be A Museum Maker

After exploring a variety of museum sites, you're ready to became the architect of your own project. Like any successful venture, planning is essential. As a class, you'll need to begin by addressing some important questions:
  • What is the theme or focus of the museum?
  • Who is our audience?
  • What artifacts are the most interesting and/or important?
  • What's the best way to organize and display artifacts?
Once you've done some brainstorming, your ready to start designing and developing your materials. This section will guide you through this process from identifying your topic to producing your materials. Good luck!
Topic Focus
Start with a project close to your school and community. Focus on a local event, historic site, or natural area.
  • Local History
  • Festivals
  • Honey Bees
  • Apples
  • Crabs
  • Lumber
  • Pumpkins
  • Watermelons

Maple Trees
Collect Information

A field trip is a good way to collect information. Ask each student to record something during the trip. Bring all the tools you can find!

Field Trip Tools:
  • Laptop computer
  • Audio recorders
  • Video cameras
  • Cameras - digital, film
  • Paper, pencils, markers
  • Lab equipment
Locate Materials
Once you've collected all the information that's available on a field trip, try your library and other area information resources.
  • Books & Newspapers
  • Videos & CDs
  • Websites

Mining Co ClipArt

Just Jane Clip Art

American Memories

California Heritage

Select Artifacts

Once you've collected lots of information, it's time to decide what items will be selected for inclusion in your virtual museum. Ask: What will we show or say? Why? What best reflects our interests and ideas? What artifacts will best represent the museum.

  • Diagrams, drawings/paintings, map
  • Interviews & oral histories
  • Photographs - digital camera, scan
  • Recordings - audio, video
  • Text - diaries, letters, newspapers

Pioneer Project
Start Building

Start from a model, a template, or from scratch.

You might use a site like the White House as a model. The Utah site contains a great template. Or, consider creating your own project from scratch.

White House

Virtual Field Trips - Utah

Utah Pioneer Heritage

Choose a Format
There are many ways to organize your information. You might structure your ideas by key topics in a table of contents, list, or index. Or, try a report, diary, or letter format. Some people prefer to create a visual representation such as a map, floorplan, diagram, or timeline. Create a field trip or tour through a place or through time.
Choose the format that best represents your artifacts.

Canada Goose

Virtual Salmon


Hooper Virtual Natural History Museum

From the Mountains to the Sea

Virtual Renaissance

Design Web Structure
Consider the overall web site structure. How will pages be organized within folders? How will they be named? What information will be on the core page? What information will consistently appear on each subsequent page? A good plan will go a long way in eliminating management problems.
Consider each of the following elements:
  • Organization
  • Titles
  • Headings
  • Chunk Info
  • Footers
  • Disclaimers
  • Credits
  • Contact Info

Keep It Simple
Focus on a topic or theme. Then, select a few major areas building your site as you go.

Edgewood School
Jump Start with Project
Build the core page first. Then, create a sample exhibit providing lists of ideas to get students started.

Newburgh History
Build as You Go
Another option is to create the core page, then add student projects later. In the example, the student icon was added and the pages uploaded as projects are completed.

Ancient History Project
Create New Artifacts
Students are great at creating artifacts such as art and writing project. Check out the science fair examples.

Science Fair
Make It Ongoing

Consider keeping an open menu so the students in each class can continue to add to the project.

Favorite Books
Consider Individual Needs
Consider the following individual factors such as learning styles, intelligences, and work speeds when designing your projects and coordinating teams. Each student is unique. For example, you might assign a "higher level" project to a student who needs a challenge.
Be realistic about assignment. Don't worry about the length of projects, you can always increase the size of the font to make the shorter projects look longer!

Coordinate Groups
Nurture group spirit! Before you group students consider the following factors:
  • Purpose of grouping
  • Task of the group
  • Identification of roles
  • Assessment of individuals/group

Select Roles

Students love role playing. Use the names of careers associated with museum work. Ask students to learn about the career and use this information in their work.

Some museum careers include:
  • Museum Curator
  • Public Relations
  • Collection Manager
  • Researcher
  • Exhibit Manager
  • Visual Designer
  • Text Designer

Keepers of the Past
Manage Technology

Technology plays an important role in a virtual museum project. Consider the following areas in project management:

  • Internet Access
  • Email Use
  • Computer Schedule
  • File Management

Create a Headquarters

Create a project headquarters on a bulletin board near your classroom computers. It should contain the following elements:

  • Overview
  • Resources
  • Timeline
  • Screen Dumps
  • Responsibility Charts

Elanora Projects
Consider Copyright

Be sure to consider copyright issues. Before posting a project, be sure to check with the director of the historic site, natural area, or other organization. Get permission to use any information you use on your site.

District Copyright Guidelines
Share Your Experience

The Internet is about sharing. When you're a beginner, it's nice to hear about how projects developed. Consider developing a page on your site called "About the Site". It might contain the following information:

  • The making of...
  • Our timeline...
  • Our organization...

Ancient Civilization
Adult-Produced Museums
Student-Produced Museums
Be a Museum Maker
Be a Bridge Builder

Developed by Annette Lamb, 3/99