Berowra Living History is an exciting project, but it isn’t the first of its kind. People are always fascinated with the history of their local area, and there are many who want to record the stories of older residents before they are irretrievably lost. Usually the outcome for such projects is an exhibition or a book and this is what many expected us to create. Yet for us, it wasn’t enough. We had already mounted a couple of exhibitions, and although they had been successful, they are short lived. Similarly, a book can only look at history up to a point in time, and then the book is ‘finished’, though the history may not be. We wanted something which could grow and evolve with the history of Berowra and a book or exhibition simply could not provide this. A virtual museum however could.
This was not the only reason for our decision though. We recognised that the potential of virtual museums is amazing. They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and people can visit at their leisure without having to worry about opening hours. They can be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world, regardless of where they live in relation to the ‘museum’, or whether they have a disability which might prohibit physical access. As long as the person has some kind of internet access, they are free to visit the museum for as long and as often as they like. They need not even have a computer, a mobile phone can allow them to ‘visit’.
Virtual museums also provide access to collections which would not otherwise be seen by the public. In fact, they can display items from diverse collections with little difficulty as well as giving physical museums scope to display greater proportions of their collection than would otherwise be possible. Physical space is limited but virtual space is infinite. In addition, there is no constraint on how an item can be displayed. It can be included in multiple exhibitions at once without any problems and can be displayed indefinitely without danger to the item itself. Even exhibition changes can be made without denying public access. The items can also be inspected at incredibly close range without any of the dangers inherent in allowing close public access. After all, if fingerprints are left behind after a visit, the visitor themselves must clean them up and there is no effect on the items displayed! Even dangerous items which normally must be kept out of reach of visitors can be closely inspected with no danger to the visitor or the item.
We look forward to creating our virtual museum and make sure to check back regularly to keep up to date on our progress and any exciting discoveries!