Good news! The Art Institute of Chicago has recently launched Pathfinder, a new interactive floor plan and virtual gallery tour system featured on its website. Apparently it is the first of its kind, as the well-known art museum is the “first in the the world to dynamically combine its floor plan with fully up-to-date high-definition and panoramic views of its galleries.”
As the art museum environment is increasingly integrated with the web, resulting in the buzz phrase “digital museum,” there exists massive amounts of potential for museum professionals to attract larger and more diverse audience to their institutions. Most museums rely on financial support from their local areas because this has traditionally been the audience most impacted and directly marketed to. However, in the future we are looking at more geographically-diverse constituents who may decide that what the museum provides online is equally as beneficial as what is presented at the brick-and-mortar building. It is no longer becoming optional for us as museum professionals to know our stuff about the digital environment, and to use these tools to our advantage for the future of our institutions and collections. We are also ultimately doing this for increased access for and visibility to our public. The public forum of the museum is expanding at a rapid pace and we would be ignorant not to keep up. So, kudos to you Art Institute of Chicago!
Find Pathfinder here: http://www.artic.edu/pathfinder/php/pathfinder.php