The Peabody is now adding friends on Facebook.
In the next two weeks, the museum plans to launch a new version of their website that is easier to use and integrates new media like podcasts and videos. Over the past two years, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History has been using social networking sites and multimedia to make their collections more accessible to the public online and to draw in a wider range of people.
The museum has only recently focused on social networking as a medium for reaching the public. The new website has a page dedicated to linking viewers to the Peabody’s Twitter and Facebook page.
Though some of the Peabody’s collections have been available online for more than a decade, they were not easily reachable on the Peabody’s old website, Assistant Director for Collections and Operations Tim White said.
Even so, the online collections have drawn more people to the museum, with the number of visitors tripling in the past 15 years, White added.
“We put our stuff online because we want people to come and look at them,” he said.
The goal of the project is to draw even more people to the museum, Deputy Director and Assistant Director for Public Programs Jane Pickering said. The new website features landing pages for teachers, researchers, Yale students, members, media, and children, with relevant information for each group. The landing page for researchers, for instance, contains a database of online catalogues and instructions for using the collections.
Harry Shyket, the museum’s digital media specialist, said when he first started at the Peabody in 2009, there were few web-related projects being developed.
“It was very much a static site,” he said.
Shyket plans to keep track of the site’s viewing statistics after it is launched to figure out whether web traffic is increasing as a result of these changes, he said, adding that he hopes the web aspects will draw more people to visit the Peabody on foot.
The Peabody administration has also been working to develop interactive technology to teach its patrons about natural history outside of the museum’s doors, Pickering said.
One upcoming program called icBUG will allow people to use global positioning systems on their smart phone to access a listing of the different butterflies in that area. The application will be designed to be user friendly and target those of all scientific backgrounds, Pickering said.
There will be 13 collections available for public viewing on the Peabody’s new website.