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published: April, 2002

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


Steve Boyd-Smith, Minnesota Historical Society, USA

Demonstration: Demonstrations 1

Time came that the Minnesota Historical Society needed to put some interpretive history on our web site to supplement the extensive catalogs and marketing information on mnhs.org. But where to start?

TimePieces is the beginning of this program, a collection of events that also provides contextual links to the other functions of the MHS. TimePieces has the future in mind—it is driven by a powerful database that will allow for continuous growth of events and sources. It also has the entire population of the state at heart--one of its goals was to be accessible, eliminating the possibility of Flash or other technologies that cannot be translated by screen-readers. The result—arrived at through extensive user-testing—is a simple, direct interface that belies the project's strength.

The site also includes two educational activities that are being evaluated in classrooms during April. History Mystery and Scavenger Hunt are examples of functions that extend TimePieces. Others planned for in the future include a Narrative Mode that allows users to collect events and post them as a set with their own narrative thread pulling the events together.

And as other, more storytelling interpretive projects are added to mnhs.org, they and TimePieces will provide reciprocal links. Users will thereby be able to start with a story that interests them and then see it in the context of time in TimePieces, or find events in TimePieces and explore them more deeply in the storytelling site.