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The project “The establishment of a multimedia informational-exhibition complex at MAE RAS” (by the grant of CIF).

The head of the project: Dr.Y.K.Chistov.

On the 11th of November, 2005, at Smolny the winners of the first competition for grants of the Cultural Investment Facility were presented with the corresponding certificates.

The CIF grant certificates were handed over to the heads of theatres, museums and libraries of Saint-Petersburg by the governor of Saint-Petersburg V.I.Matvienko, the Minister of culture and mass media of the Russian Federation A.S.Sokolov and the director of Russian department, the permanent representative of the World Bank in Moscow K.Georgieva.

The winner of the first competition for the CIF grant is Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) with the project “The establishment of a multimedia informational-exhibition complex at MAE RAS”.

Description of the project.

The project involves the establishment of an informational-exhibition complex (IEC) – the aggregate of program and hardware-based facilities, included into the unified local computer network of the Museum, with the Museum database (MD) as the informational and administrative core.

The materials can be also used by guides during excursions at the Museum and lessons for schoolchildren and students at the exhibitions.

The project includes working out and installation of MD at workplaces of employees of some Museum departments, the instruction them as users and administrators of MD, the organization of data input process. The conversion of existent database into MD is also scheduled along with the integration of published catalogs of the Museum collections, images and annotations, prepared for the Museum exhibition projects, into the system, as well as the gradual entry of data about all exhibited objects and collections and then, in the course of time, about collections from the Museum depot.

The information stalls with sensor displays, projecting screens and plasma panels will be installed in the museum galleries; they will enable visitors to access the information about the museum artifacts and collections in the form of electronic labels of artifacts, encyclopedias and multimedia programs. For lessons with disabled children the information zone with special facilities for such lessons will be arranged. Specialists from scientific and training centers will access the systematized scientific information in a special information zone.

The informational-exhibition complex will guarantee the up-to-date level of safe digitization and certification of the unique museum collections, will increase effectiveness of exhibiting and popularization of the collections of the oldest museum of Russia for different visitors, will enable to improve the museum management and will give access to the museum collection via internet.

The project aim is to modernize the informational infrastructure of the museum, to improve the museum management standards, to enlarge the attendance, to impart a new quality to the collected cultural heritage of the world nations by means of the establishment of the informational-exhibition complex of MAE RAS, which can provide the up-to-date level of safe digitization, documentation and description of the unique object and illustration collections, as well as to increase effectiveness of interpretation, exhibiting and popularization of the museum collections for different groups of visitors and specialists.

The project tasks:

  • To create the core of IEC in the form of MD, installed at automated workplaces (further in the text – AW) of employees of some of the museum departments.
  • To introduce MD at MAE RAS, to instruct employees to work with it.
  • To convert the systematized information, which were accumulated at the museum in electronic form – databases, catalogs, inventories, lists etc – into MD.
  • To digitize the published catalogs of the MAE collections and to add them to MD.
  • To insert into MD the data of the museum artifacts and collections of the permanent exhibitions of the museum in the form of passports, topographic plans of the museum galleries, plans of display cases and vitrines in the galleries, electronic labels and encyclopedias of the ethnography  of the world’s nations.
  • To create a series of multimedia interactive programs, enabling visitors to learn common knowledge of the world’s nations, to submerge into visual and informational context of national cultures.
  • To create prototype of interface solution of electronic labeling for the museum exposition and to realize it for several galleries.
  • To equip the museum exposition with network multimedia stations, connected to the museum local network, with program facilities for work with the MD interface, intended for different categories of the museum visitors. 
  • To modernize the museum network by installation of a new server and a data warehouse, by laying of fibre-optic cables and setting wi-fi transmitters at places where to lay fibre-optic cables is impossible because of regulations for immovable monuments of architecture. 
  • To install and start AW at offices of the museum employees and multimedia stations (informational stores with sensor monitors) at the exposition.
  • To create a special informational center for work with disabled children.
  • To create a special informational area with the access to the museum information for specialists of the museum, other scientific and study centers, students.
  • To create an organization structure for support and development of IEC at the museum.
  • To adapt excursion programs to work with IEC, to retrain guides.

The project necessity grounds.

Peter the Great Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) RAS is a leading scientific and museum institution of the country, which deals with problems of study of cultural heritage and traditional cultures of the world’s nations, with elaboration of fundamental and applied problems of ethnography (cultural and social anthropology according to the terminology adopted in the US), anthropology (physical or biological anthropology), archaeology (cultural anthropology), museum studies. The Museum is a structural subdivision of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the only museum in the country, which stores at depots and exhibits the world’s nations ethnography. The Museum collections consist of about 1.8 million artifacts, which were gathered since the early XVIII century by numerous generations of Russian scholars, travelers, participants of circumnavigations and round-the-world voyages.

As a part of the really great academic project of Peter I the Museum has been not only a scientific base of the Academy of Sciences but also the most important cultural and educational intitution since the day of its establishment. The chief tendency in scientific studies of MAE employees has always been the priority of science in the system of Russian traditional values, as conveyed with Claude Levi-Stauss’s maxim: “Anthropology is humanity of XXI century”.

In many respects the priority of science determined the dimanic development of Russia, and it is also the basis for devemopment in the future. The main point for stability and prosperity of such a multinational country as Russia is the careful attitude to national cultures, the ability “to live together, remaining different”. For many years the Museum has been doing a great scientific, educational and public work in this field.

Thus, since the day of its establishment the Museum has related to ensuring of the prior ideas for the country development, the ideas being absolute to all-European perception and important for integration of Russia into European economical, political and humanitarian space.

The Museum in proud of the fact that the bulk of its visitors is the youth. In this connection the museum pedagogics is one of the most important scientific branch of its work. Being a traditional museum of etrhnography and anthropology, MAE RAS is bent on forming of the visitors’ understanding of diversification and values of the world’s nations cultural heritage.

Thus, the Museum mission fully coincides with the project aim, i.e. to modernize the Museum informational infrostructure, to enlarge attendance and to give access of a new quality to its collections by means of establishing of IEC, which can provide the up-to-date level of safetiness, managemant, documentation, discription, interpretation, exhibiting and popularization of the Museum collections.

 At present some energetic actions are made at the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography to improve the quality of service towards the Museum visitors, to enhance educational component in work of the Museum departments. Besides this, the number of exhibiting programs in Russia and abroad with participation of the Museum has essentially increased lately as well as publishing projects relating to publication of the Museum collections. In this regard the Museum direction considers the lack of a unified computer-based system as the main depressant factor preventing the successful development of above-mentioned work, as such a system can combine functions of registration and storage, of accumulation of scientific and museum researches results, of monitorng of exhibiting projects and simultaneously can provide to the Museum visitors the primary and additional information of diferent levels about the world’s nations ethnography, about the Museum collections, permanent exhibiton objects, multimedia educational programs.

In particular the following problems concern the establishment of the Museum informational-exhibition complex:

  • Safe digitization, registration, cataloging and discription of the Museum illustranional collections, which in total numbers over 800 000 units.
  • Establishment of a storage database, which includes full scientific discription of artefacts and additional scientific references and provides storing and indexing of the collections data, intelligence about collectors, about places and dates of gathering of collections and artefacts as well as contains digital photographs of the objects.
  • Solving of display cases topography problems, i.e. establishment of labeling systam which can meet the informational demands of Russian and foreing visitors of the Museum.

The MAE informational-exhibition complex functions:

The MAE informational-exhibition complex will complete the following functions:

  • administration of the Museum collections
  • safe digitizing of photo-illustration collections, audio and video materials
  • documentation of the collections
  • informing of visitors of different age, interpreting of the collections and educational programs
  • visualization of the knowledge of the world’s nations ethnography
  • control of the knowledge, acquired by children of primary and secondary school age, including the instructing in the form of a game.

The task groups the project is meant for.

The project is meant for the following groups of consumers:

  • Individual visitors of the Museum
  • Organized groups of the Museum visitors
  • Disabled persons, first of all children requiring psychological and social rehabilitation
  • Foreign visitors, who want to get more knowledge of the exposition and the information of the Museum history and collections in English
  • Publishers
  • Schoolchildren, students, PhD students, probationers and scientific workers, collaborating with the RAS in fields of ethnography, anthropology, oriental studies, fine arts studies, psychology, sociology, cultural studies.
  • Representatives of Foreign and Russian delegations, visiting the Museum within the bounds of intergovernmental and interregional exchange.
  • Members of the International Society of Kunstkamera Friends.
  • The scientific employees of the Museum, curators, guides, restorers.

Project implementation period:

December of 2005 – October of 2007.