A nice article (also available as pdf) in the news section of the recently-revamped Archaeological Institute of America website introduces the Museum of Anthropology Online Artifact Database at Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC).
“The Museum of Anthropology’s collections of approximately 28,000 archaeological and ethnographic objects represent ancient and contemporary traditional non-Western cultures from around the world. … The collections are used for teaching university and K–12 students, in public outreach, for long-term exhibits and loans to other institutions, and are the basis of scholarly publications and academic theses.”
“Three successive grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Museums for America program funded the three phases of this digital database project. The purpose of Phase 1 was to create a new computerized database of the Museum of Anthropology’s collections of archaeological and ethnographic objects so that the staff and public could access useful and accurate records of all objects quickly and effectively.”
“In Phase 2 we updated the computerized database and integrated photos of objects so that staff and members of the public were able to access accurate records and images of all objects quickly and effectively though the web, using Visual Re:discovery for Internet software.”
“The overall goal of Phase 3 was to provide broad public access through the web to cataloguing information and digital images for the archival collection.”
At first sight, this database is easy to navigate. The entries have good photos, the descriptive text is to the point, short but complete. The browse function is a little odd, e.g., when using “Iraq” as a country, it shows the results for “Irian Jaya (Indonesia),” the next country category alphabetically after the absent Iraq… Overall though, a nice online database it is.