About Gallery-V at Berea College

Gallery-V is an artifact of the early World Wide Web.
It was the first web-based museum experience delivering actual content, not just PR, in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and one of the first in the USA. Gallery-V was created as an experiment, by museum professionals and students at Berea College, to explore how museum activity translated into the emerging online world. It went live in March of 1995 and was last updated on August 8, 1998. The project was all hand-coded HTML. [This info added November 2012]

Gallery-V [pronounced: Gallery VEE] is a virtual museum gallery operated by Berea College. The "V" stands for virtual. G-V serves as a laboratory in which students and faculty explore museum-style, web based education. It is also a great place to learn about Southern Appalachian history and culture.

More about Berea College | Return to the G-V Lobby

Guiding Principles for Gallery-V

Gallery-V has basic Guiding Principles. These are like the "Prime Directive" of Star Trek fame. They are strong but not absolute guidelines for making decisions about design, technology, and content in the gallery. If Guiding Principles conflict, then compromise must be made or priority must be debated. Any decision to depart from the Guiding Principles must justified by compelling reasons.

The Guiding Principles are as follows:

  1. Gallery-V an interpretive space. It is not an end in itself, nor is technological achievement it's goal. G-V teaches, in a museum tradition, about history and culture, using artifacts and images. Individual projects are curated, meaning the selection of artifacts, images, sounds, words, and layouts is deliberate and always directed towards the learning goals of the project and the gallery.

  2. Gallery-V is laboratory. It is a space for student and staff to explore the what, how & why of on-line exhibits.

  3. Gallery-V is a spatial metaphor in the virtual realm. Almost every web creation is an on-line metaphor of some pre-existing medium -- the book, the movie, the catalogue, etc. G-V is a metaphor for real space. This was deliberately chosen as the starting point for the evolution of G-V because the essence of exhibits is that they happen in space; they are a spatial medium. In developing G-V we want to be sure we capture the exhibit-ness of live exhibits while we explore the new dimensions possible exhibiting in the virtual realm.

  4. Gallery-V applies universal design in the virtual realm. The technical and media decisions made while developing G-V must be inclusive. They must make it accessible to a broad audience. On the web, the differently-abled are those with less memory, older web browsers, different operating systems, text-to-speech software, etc. Making G-V accessible to these people is accomplished through a variety of means. G-V uses as universal an HTML as possible. Currently this means conservative use of HTML 3, avoiding browser specific features. ALT tags are also used extensively to provide text access to images.

History of Gallery-V

Gallery-V first went on-line in March of 1995 as a project of the Berea College Appalachian Museum.

The initial design and development was by Christopher Miller, Director of the Museum, and Mark Butler, Berea College Senior, Student Museum Media Manager.

The plan for the initial version was created during Berea College's Christmas break December 1994/January 1995. Miller outlined the contents of the gallery, created the initial set of logos, and developed the basic page layouts. He assembled mock-ups of various pages and refined design and content decisions. A prototype of G-V emerged shortly after the first of the year, 1995. After review by several individuals and further refinement, Miller & Butler began work on the first full-draft during Berea's January short term. Miller focused on managing the overall project, acquisition & generation of the text, and original graphics. Butler assembled created the HTML pages, put in HTML tags, scanned images, digitized the sound clips, and did testing. Kalsang Phuntsok, Berea College Senior & Museum Photographer did digital photography in the museum and around campus. The first complete draft was ready in late January.

Each of the HTML pages was printed to hard copy. During February & March 1995 Julie Sowell, Museum Curator, edited and reviewed the hard copy for content and style. During Berea's Spring Break in March 1995 Butler made final corrections to the HTML documents. Version 95.3.A of Gallery-V was installed on the Berea College WWW server on the evening of March 30, 1995 by Miller and David Coleman , Berea College Database Manager.

At its publication Gallery-V was believed to the first on-line museum exhibit in Kentucky. To date no one has proven otherwise.

During the Summer of 1996 Gallery-V underwent a major update and fully adopted the spatial metaphor. Three Berea College students worked full-time to redevelop the entire gallery. Rosanne Christy Lewis, senior, led this effort and did the majority of the HTML coding. Teresa Webb, senior, developed the Virtual Appalachian Garden exhibit. Agnes Warren, junior, supported the project with photography and computer graphics work. The revision went on-line in November 1996 as version 96.11.J.

Spring 1997 saw the advent of the Live MuseCam in Gallery-V. Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery visited Berea College and built a Mandala (sand painting) over a five day period. Miller and Lewis setup a Connectix Color QuickCam connected to a Mac Classic to capture one image each minute (over 7,000 images) and place them on a web page.

Spring 1998 saw the closing of the Berea College Appalachian Museum's public galleries. Miller reworked G-V to eliminate the Museum Gift Shop and information about the Museum. On 8/5/98, with version 98.8.M, Gallery-V began its existence as a true virtual entity, separate from any live public museum or gallery. Gallery-V remains, however, connected to actual artifact and image collections, and a real mission -- to educate about the Appalachian Region and Berea College.

The Director of Gallery-V

Christopher Miller was the director of Gallery-V. Miller had been developing interpretive museum exhibits since 1986 and had been Director of Berea College's Appalachian Museum since October 1993. He had previously developed exhibits at the Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, Minnesota; The Houdini Historical Center, Appleton, Wisconsin; and the Outagamie Museum, Appleton, Wisconsin. Later he worked on other web projects for Berea College including developing Berea College's first real homepage in 1999. At last checkin, Miller was Associate Director and Curator of Berea College's Loyal Jones Appalachian Center.

PUBLICATION INFORMATION: last updated 8/5/98 CM, Copyright 1995-1998, Berea College, all rights reserved. For more information contact the Gallery-V Director @ millerc@berea.edu
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