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published: April, 2002

Archives & Museum Informatics, 2002.
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License


The Drexel Digital Museum Project: Historic Costume Collection
Kathi Martin, Drexel University, USA

Demonstration: Demonstrations 2

The Drexel Digital Museum Project, Historic Costume Collection, is a collaboration between the College of Media Art & Design and the College of Information Science and Technology that uses current technology, traditional design skills and historical perspective to create access to and manage the objects which are in the collections of the Drexel Museum, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. The seven thousand objects in the Historic Costume Collection richly illustrate society life from the late 1800's to the present time. Some are employed into the teaching collection used for classes in the College of Media Arts & Design.

The project's goals are to provide access to the rich collections of the Drexel Museum via an online, searchable database; to represent them with high quality graphics, from multiple views; to conserve the existing physical collections; and to develop a process to incorporate the technical protocols and standards being developed and promoted by the Open Archives Initiative (OAI). In this initiative, standards for metadata harvesting and image capture are being created to facilitate the use of the internet, beyond it's use as a tool for resource discovery, to a tool for "distributed custodianship of resources". Participating in this initiative expands the knowledge pool accessible to a local collection/museum database. A small sample of objects from the Historic Costume Collection has been digitally photographed and modeled in QuickTime Virtual Reality software to show the objects from all sides. An evolutionary prototype has been created for this museum online and is viewable at http://digimuse.cis.drexel.edu.

The work of fashion designers, educators, archivists and scholars in the digital age includes the production of visual images, the creation and management of databases and the ability to use advanced network and information technologies to improve access to digital images and information. Dublin Core, and XML developments, as well as recommendations from other collections involved in information sharing between databases, are being incorporated into the information system of the Drexel Digital Museum Project to interpolate information between the database of a small historic costume collection and the database of a multi - community OAI repository. As the evolution of the prototype includes the retrospective conversion of collection data from 3'x5' paper file card to a relational database that includes images, all aspects of standardized data structure from naming conventions, data structure, and image capture are considered. The database is designed particularly for Historic Costume incorporating Fashion Design; within the framework of the greater museum community's accepted data structure; and populated via an online data entry form.