Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Galapagos Museum

This collection presents digital renditions of photographs, texts, artifacts and specimens belonging to the University of Wisconsin Zoological Museum Galapagos Collection, in celebration of Darwin’s 200th birthday. This online collection is pretty unique, given that it is rare for any institution to possess specimens from this geographical area. In this case, providing access to these objects online provides a significant potential advantage over the analog collection. It is not clear what the selection criteria is for the collection. It does seem, however, like all objects have been digitized, so that the digital collection could represent all items. This includes all specimens (more than 1200) collected on missions between 1969 and the present, and “thousands of images.”

The collection level metadata provides information about the zoological museum and its purpose. Not much technical information exists about how the collection was digitized. Each individual image metadata functions much like what one would expect from a scientific/biological organizational scheme. Descriptive components are focused on the specific species, and not the digital image. There is some information pertaining to where the photo was captured, and the date it was taken.

The digital images are mostly fixed. The only manipulation is the enlargement feature. The photos are in color. For text objects, the collection links to the online location for the publication. In this case, the metadata seems only to contain information about copyright. This may be so explicit since all individuals can access this material, not just students at UW.

The easy accessibility of this collection will likely attract a broad audience, from scientific researchers, to enthusiasts. One challenge exists in searching for the specimens discussed on the intro page. In this case, it seems a patron would have to have a pretty clear knowledge of what he or she were looking for, since the search engine demands fairly specific information.

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