Cool Toys Pic of the day – Virtual Museums in Michigan

Virtual Museum
University of Michigan
Histories of Information Technology

Sometimes you just have to toot your own horn. By this, I don’t mean
MY own horn, but the University of Michigan, for whom I am lucky
enough to work these days. last week I stumbled onto their Virtual
Museum. I loved it. I love the Virtual Museum’s intro statement: “Our
collections are stories, and our exhibits are presentations of those
stories.” Wow. I want that as a banner in a library.

I loved the idea of it. It is a virtual museum of computers and
information technologies, and I’ve been hanging around these for a
long time. I remember ticker tape and punch cards, computers at least
four times bigger than my house, and probably twice as big as the
library I used to manage. When I was a music major, computer had
shrunk – now the computer we used for my computer music composition
class was roughly the size of a generous closet, wrote the music to
1/2 inch reel-to-reel tape. I got in dutch with my prof because no
matter how careful I was with my splices there was a small “pop” he
could hear that I couldn’t hear or erase.

I grabbed a quick screenshot, and planned to come back to it. When I
did, I had trouble finding it, which surprised me. When I did find it
and started poking around in it, I found out why. It is a great idea,
but they never actually made it happen. There is an outline, some
pages, some images, but mostly the pages say “Under Construction.”
Oops. Or have text with no images or diagrams. They do have
invitations to folk to contribute, by email, or via the wiki.

Michigan Virtual Museum Project Home

The site was made in 2008, and the last edit to the wiki was over a
year ago. Evidently, somewhere along the lines, it fell fallow. That
happens to many excellent projects, due to lack of resources, lack of
time, lack of leadership, politics, changing priorities, etcetera.
This is a wonderful idea and I hope folks who remember the old stories
of computing here at the University of Michigan will go share memories
and contribute their own small snippets to help flesh out the project
a bit.

In the meantime, while I had trouble finding it, I did find several
other virtual museums in Michigan. They are doing a lot of fascinating
things, from simply sharing information and collections of real
museums, creating virtual field trips to empower teachers and students
who can’t afford travel in these economic times, to creating museums
like the UMVM that exist nowhere in the real world but only in the
virtual. Here are some of those.


Mother of All Art and Art History Links Pages:
NOTE: A virtual museum of virtual museums! Actually, this is a link
collection of online museums and exhibits of art, all around the
world, from the History of Art program at UM.


Naval Air Station Grosse Ile Virtual Museum
NOTE: This is an old website, but popular and substantial. The
interface hasn’t been updated in a while, but it does contain a lot of
well researched information about a particular aspect of Michigan’s


Heathkit Virtual Museum
NOTE: Heathkit is from Benton Harbor. At one point they sold kits to
make your own radio or computer in your basement, and my dad bought
these. I think that is how we got our first home computer when I was a


MSU Museum: Virtual Outreach Program
NOTE: Virtual field trips for those schools not traveling. They will
support teleconferencing to give the docent tour experience for the


Historic Arcadia, Michigan
NOTE: Railways, shipping, baseball, and a LOT more. Wonderful online
pages from the Museum with online exhibits including text, photos,
maps, and more.


Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
NOTE: From Ferris State University, this may be my favorite of all the
Michigan Virtual Museums. The actual physical museum is closed for the
summer, but don’t let that stop you. The online exhibits are rich,
detailed, controversial, provocative. They are keeping their online
presence lively with an active blog, a Youtube channel with new
favorites, and a Question of the Month.


University of Michigan Football Ticket Museum
NOTE: Bringing it back home to Michigan. This might be the oddest of
the virtual museums I found. There is no real live museum that I know
of, but the collection is rich, detailed, and a great example of
crowdsourcing, with images donated by other passionate collectors of
UM Football Tickets. GO BLUE!



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