April 28, 2009
With clean design, easy navigation, and faster access, the Museum’s redesigned online site offers a clear window into some of Longyear’s activities, displays, images, and research on Mary Baker Eddy.
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Longyear's redesigned website that you see on your computer screen today is the culmination of a two-year-long project to give visitors a truer museum experience.
As you travel around the site today you will discover a clean design, easy navigation, and fast access that will allow you a clear peek into the Museum's activities, vast array of displays, images, and research on Mary Baker Eddy, as well as its eight historic houses.
For instance, at some time later this year, you will be able to watch a video of a Longyear house undergoing restoration or take a guided tour through a Longyear photo gallery. Photos and text articles of the early Christian Science workers will also be on display.
"Each day Longyear is involved in a variety of interesting projects, and through the new website's use of video, still images, audio, and text we are now able to share this with our members and visitors," said Jonathan Eggers, Longyear's Media and Technology Project Manager.
The central core of the site you see today is organized around four categories: Mary Baker Eddy, Museum & Exhibits, Historic Houses, and Members' Desk. The Members' Desk offers Longyear members admission to the Museum's historical research, correspondence, and reminiscences. This material will be updated each month.
To the Museum's research the website will add a good dose of museum news and upcoming event schedules. This combination promises to enable members and visitors to connect more closely with the Longyear experience.
The site also includes a biography of Mary Baker Eddy offered in English and translated into German, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian.
The website's current configuration is already a popular international web destination. For instance, according to Mr. Eggers, Longyear tracking data for February 2009 indicates that visitors came to the online site from 49 countries - including Russia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Vietnam, and Japan - on six continents. Over the past year, the site was seen by visitors from 107 countries, Mr. Eggers added.
Longyear's website has evolved through three distinct landscapes. From humble beginnings in the mid-1990s when "the Internet" was just becoming a household term, the site at that time carried little more than a brick-and-mortar address and some historical information.
By 2000, it evolved into a second landscape and more museum content was put online. American museums by this time generally had a strong web presence, and Longyear managers were seeing the possibilities.
"I started to realize we could practically get up a virtual museum," said Longyear Trustee Ellen Williams, who worked closely on the first two versions of the website. "We could put up our gallery of portraits. I said, 'This thing is powerful!' "
Soon Mrs. Williams took the Museum's store online.
"I got a camera and photographed every item in the store," Mrs. Williams said. "I remember I had to use [the software program] Photoshop to make all the items in the photos appear in size proportion. And you could now pay by credit card."
In 2007 Mrs. Williams handed off the keyboard and mouse to Mr. Eggers and focused on her work as a Longyear Trustee. Mr. Eggers has spent much of the last two years working with Newburyport, Massachusetts, design firm iMarc to create the website's third configuration that you see today.
But Mrs. Williams adds that she hopes visitors continue to visit the Longyear Museum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
"Nothing can replace coming to the Museum!" she said.