A TFAO Report: Online Educational Programming for Museums and Art Centers



(above: Arthur Frank Mathews, The Grape (The Wine Maker), c. 1906, oil on canvas, De Young Museum. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)




This Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) research report is designed to provide to both museum management and program planners the why, what and how regarding enriched online content and related enabling tools. Numerous examples and contacts are cited. The Online audio section was developed in 2004-2007 and the Online illustrated audio section in 2004-2005. Online video was developed in 2004-2009. Sections on these topics have been amended as TFAO discovered further useful insights and examples. Sections on Digital libraries and Financial assistance will be updated in future years.



Content delivery utilizing online audio, illustrated audio and video provides:

It is timely for museums to plan for utilization of up-to-date techniques which deliver program content to audiences by means that emulate familiar and accepted formats, while enhancing and extending the educational component of their mission. This planning and ensuing deployment demonstrates innovative leadership and builds stronger institutions more effectively able to attract visitors and members.

Dramatic developments in technology -- only dreamed of until recently -- are making available new means to educate museum audiences. Associated production, equipment and operating costs have greatly fallen, and continue to rapidly plummet. The employment of powerful new tools, allowing museums to broaden and deepen educational outcomes, is now affordable for many institutions.

Also, the online audience is growing quickly. A March 23, 2005 report titled Internet & Multimedia 2005: The On-Demand Media Consumer by Bill Rose of Arbitron Inc. and Joe Lenski of Edison Media Research states that 81% of Americans now have Internet access from locations including their homes, work, schools, colleges and public libraries, with 69% of all Americans having access from their homes. The report further sates that 106 million Americans have listened to streaming online audio or watched streaming online video content at some point is time, and 55 million in December, 2004.

A sign of the times is this excerpt from a September 8, 2005 article in the Financial Times: "In April he (Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp.) used a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors to warn of complacency about the internet, and that "digital immigrants" such as himself would have to cater to a younger generation of "digital natives". In early August, Mr Murdoch said the group would spend up to $2bn on internet acquisitions..." Clearly, Mr. Murdoch believes that the internet is essential for reaching younger audiences.

In an October 27, 2005 Associated Press story on Internet use, Stephen Ohlemacher reports: "A report this year by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 68 percent of adults use the Internet, up from 63 percent last year. It found that 22 percent of American adults have never used the Internet.... Susannah Fox, who worked on the Pew report, said age and education were the strongest predictors of whether someone uses the Internet. Young adults were the most likely to use the Internet, with a big drop-off among people 70 and older."




(above:  Albert L. Groll, Laguna, New Mexico, c.1912, oil on canvas, 39.8 x 51.3 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)



1. Many museum buildings contain "computerized" kiosks providing enriched information, visitation tactical planning and routing. Click here for comparative information on kiosks and online educational presentations.

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