Simona Caraceni


This thesis aims to go beyond the concept of so called ‘virtual museums’. In this work I will attempt to trace a new definition of the term ‘virtual museum’ providing the concept with renewed dignity, comparable to ICOM’S definitions of museums and other existing definitions of the concept. To do so the main part of this thesis is about creating a meta­model of taxonomy capable of including all the experimentations that have taken place in the field of ‘virtual museums’ in the last 20 years. In this direction I have investigated the concept of the museum as a medium as described by McLuhan and other thinkers, both within and outside the field of museology. The discovery of an unabridged work by McLuhan on technology in museums endorses, and opens a discussion on how technology is intended to be used for the communication of heritage. Another aim of this thesis is to investigate how museum professionals can deal with the new role of Information Technology in communicating heritage. In this thesis I intend to respond to the need of museum professionals both inside and outside ICOM for definitions and clearer understanding concerning the following questions ‘What is a virtual museum? Can it be comparable with a ‘real’ museum? What different kinds of virtual museums can be discerned in past experimentations? Can they be included in a taxonomy? How does this change the day to day work of museum professionals in accordance with the new technological potential for the communication of heritage?

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