Saturday, April 19, 2008

Online exhibitions

Online exhibitions are a useful way of telling a story. They can be an adjunct to an exhibition held in a physical space or can be a separate entity.

Like any exhibition there are a number of tasks to be undertaken:

  • Planning
  • Resources available

  • Research

  • Story board

  • Designing the pages

  • Putting it all together

  • Checking the end product

MacRobertson's Round Australia Expedition 1928 is an online exhibition recently added to the Royal Historical Society of Victoria website. This project has evolved over the past two years. It has been developed to commemorate the eightieth anniversary of the expedition, consisting of two trucks, an oldsmobile and 12 men, which left Melbourne in April 1928 for a five month journey around Australia.

The RHSV collection includes an archive of photographs, papers and memorabilia relating to the business and other interests of MacPherson Robertson. The collection includes albums of photographs taken during the expedition as well as typed notes and newspaper articles providing information about the five month journey.

Using the information from these resources the story of the expedition, the challenges faced by the expedition party and their view of the often remote parts of Australia visited is portrayed in this online exhibition.

Photographs from the albums were scanned. Normally images for Internet projects are resaved as 72 dpi jpg images but as the original images were small, for this project they were resaved as150 dpi jpg images for Internet use. A thumbnail program - Easy Thumbnails - was used to ensure all the images were no wider or longer than 350 pixels.

The story of the expedition was told from two sources - a carbon copy of daily notes on the progress of the expedition prepared for MacPherson Robertson and newspaper cuttings reporting on the expedition published throughout Australia.

As the typed notes were blury and we only had an old elementary entry OCR program transcriptions were made of the notes and the entries for each day were entered into a database (DB/TextWorks). Report forms were created so that the records could be read chronologically. When there was an image that related to the daily record it was included.

The RHSV is able to publish DB/TextWorks databases online but if there was not that facility it would have been possible to save sections of the records as html files to include in the online exhibition.

Information from the notes and the newspaper articles were used to provide a summary of the expedition and together with the images tell the story of the journey in html pages.

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