From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A virtual museum is a museum that exists only online. A virtual museum is also known as an online museum, electronic museum, hypermuseum, digital museum, cybermuseum or Web museum. The term used depends upon the backgrounds of the practitioners and researchers working in this field.
As with a traditional museum, a virtual museum can be designed around specific objects (akin to an art museum, natural history museum, or archive), or can consist of new exhibitions created from scratch (akin to the exhibitions at science museums). Moreover, a virtual museum can refer to the mobile or World Wide Web offerings of traditional museums (e.g., displaying digital representations of its collections or exhibits); or can be born digital content such as Net art, Virtual Reality and Digital art.
Pioneers (online before 2000) 
The following online museums were pioneers. At that time, web pages were simpler, bandwidth was scarce, the concepts of the online museum were still developing, and there were limited multimedia technologies available within web browsers. Some online museums began in other (not web site) electronic forms, or were established by existing physical museums. Some online museums have become significant sources of scholarly information, including extensive citations within Wikipedia.
- Museum of Computer Art (MOCA) - Founded 1993. Directed by Don Archer, a non-profit corporation under charter from the Department of Education of New York State (US). MOCA was awarded .museum top-level domain (TLD) status by the Museum Domain Management Association (MuseDoma) in 2002 and is hosted on the Web as http://moca.virtual.museum.
- Web Museum, Paris — founded 1994, online 1994. A pioneering virtual or web museum is the Web Museum, Paris created by Nicholas Pioch. It is hosted by ibiblio.
- The Lin Hsin Hsin Art Museum — online 1994.
- The Museum of the History of Science in Oxford — opened 1683, online 21 August 1995 - Located in one of the earliest purpose-built museum buildings in the world, the Museum was able to initiate a website relatively early because of the advantageous networking facilities and expertise available in their university environment.
- Ljubljana: Open-Air Museum — founded 1993 - online 1996. Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia was presented as a huge museum where streets were the expositions of the architecture and building interiors were museum rooms.The method of the presentation were interactive maps and interactive Virtual Reality panoramas. 
- Virtual Museum of Computing — founded 1994. This is an eclectic collection of links and online resources concerning the history of computers and computer science.
- Virtual Museum of New France — online 1997. Established by the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation.
- The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County - Founded 1910, online 1998. The museum is the largest natural and historical museum in the Western United States and an active research center.
- WebExhibits — founded 1999, online 1999. WebExhibits is an interactive, web-based museum that encourages visitors to think about and explore scientific and cultural phenomena in new ways. Exhibits include "Investigating Bellini’s Feast of the Gods," "Causes of Color," "Color Vision & Art," Pigments through the Ages," "Butter," "Van Gogh’s Letters," and "Poetry through the Ages," "Calendars through the Ages," and "Daylight Saving Time."
- the Science Museum in London — founded 1857, online 1999. One of the major science museums in the world was able to establish an early web presence partly due to the proximity of Imperial College, but was also spurred on by the fact that the Natural History Museum, which is next door, had recently established the first dedicated museum web server in the United Kingdom.
- ibiblio — founded 1992, online 2000. An online exhibition with the backing of the Library of Congress, ibiblio hosted EXPO Ticket Office with exhibits including a Vatican Exhibit and even a virtual "restaurant" and "post office". This looks very simplistic now, but was novel in 1991.
Other online museums 
Most physical museums now have an online presence, with varying degrees of online information. At one end of the spectrum, museums provide simple contact and background information, and a listing of exhibitions (brochure museums). On the other end of the spectrum are museums that exist only online, or those that have a physical building but offer extensive online exhibits, interactive online features, multimedia, and searchable or browsable collections (content museums, learning museums, virtual museums).
The following are a few other museums online:
- America's Black Holocaust Museum is now an online-only museum that presents exhibits about the Black holocaust in the USA – beginning with the forced migration from Africa to the present. The museum's Four Themes are: Remembrance, Resistance, Redemption, and Reconciliation. The story is told through still and moving images, interpretive and original texts, interactivity, works of art.
- International Museum of Women is an online-only museum that does not have a physical building and instead offers online exhibitions about women's issues globally as well as an online community. Online exhibitions include "Imagining Ourselves" (launched 2006) about women's identity, "Women, Power and Politics" (2008), and "Economica: Women and the Global Economy" (2009).
- International New Media Gallery - an online museum specialising in contemporary moving image artwork. Its exhibitions are accompanied by an academic catalogue, online discussion platform and offline events. It is currently showing Thomson & Craighead: A Short Film About War (May 2013 - October 2013).
- Google Art Project is an online compilation of high-resolution images of artworks from galleries worldwide, as well as a virtual tour of the galleries in which they are housed. The project was launched on 1 February 2011 by Google, and includes works in the Tate Gallery, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; and the Uffizi, Florence.
- Movement Museum - Movement Museum is virtual online formation of open setup.
- The Museum of Soho, London - The Museum of Soho, London.
-  artla.com a contemporary online art gallery at the Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, California.
- Virtual Museum of Modern Nigerian Art — the VMMNA is the first of its kind in Africa. Hosted by the Pan-African University, Lagos, Nigeria this virtual museum offers a good view of the development on Nigerian Art in the past fifty years.
- Blue World Web Museum — the Blue World Web Museum's Mission is to provide a virtual museum educational experience in the fields of maritime art and related activities.
- Tucson Gay Museum - the Tucson Gay Museum was the Worlds First Gay - LGBT All Virtual Museum with no physical building and comprehensive virtual online historical photographic, text, audio, manuscript, and video exhibits documenting Tucson Arizona's Gay History from the 1700s to the 2010s (Exhibits also include Gay - LGBT related historical items of Other Communities around the United States where the Tucson Gay Delegations often traveled). Also known as the Tucson LGBT Museum and the Tucson LGBTQ Museum its online exhibitions are very extensive documenting not only the Gay History but also the History of the Time Periods and the Events that influenced them. The project of collecting items began on Saturday June 3, 1967 by some local High School aged boys. The Tucson Gay Museum now fully immerses the visitor in the various historical time periods. The original effort started in 1967 culminated in the Grand Opening as an All Virtual Museum on Thursday September 1, 2010.
- UK's Culture24 — online guide to public museums, galleries, libraries, archives, heritage sites and science centres in the United Kingdom.
- Hampson Virtual Museum — allows visitors to digitally "check out" the museum's virtual objects for analysis and study. The museum consists of hundreds of high-resolution, laser-scanned representations of Native American pottery. The objects can be viewed and downloaded in formats that include Adobe's 3D PDF, "obj" and VRML/X3d. The museum also provides free access to downloadable software that can be used to conduct metric analysis of the digital objects. The digital objects can be freely reused under a Creative Common's 3 license.
- Virtual Museum of Canada — Canada's national virtual museum. With over 2,500 Canadian museums, the VMC brings together Canada's museums regardless of size or geographical location.
- Virtual Museum of Slovenia — National project by Slovenian Ministy of culture and Boštjan Burger. Project started in 2000 and ended in 2004 with vizualisation of over 106 Slovenian museums exhibitions with 1.162 museum locations.
- Museum With No Frontiers — launched its international website in 2007.
- Tucson Museum - The Tucson Museum founded in 1894, went All Virtual in 2008 due to rising operating costs and lack of building space to exhibit historical collections.- The Tucson Museum as an All Virtual Museum with no physical buildings highlights and preserves virtual online historical photographic, text, audio, manuscript, and video exhibits and collections documenting Tucson Arizona's Historical time periods from the 1600s to the 2010s.
- National Museum of the U.S. Air Force - launched in 2010, it is a comprehensive tour of the world's oldest and largest aviation museum, featuring more than 360 aerospace vehicles on over 17-acres of land.
- Virtual Museum of the History of Mineralogy photographs and descriptions of representative historical objects and information related to the early mineralogical and crystallographic sciences
- Hampson Museum—3D artifacts selected from the collections at the Hampson Archeological Museum State Park in Wilson, Arkansas
- Virtual Museum of Patagonian Fossils - Corals, petrified forests, trigoniids (form of bivalve mollusks). Bilingual in Spanish. Built by staffperson at Centro Atómico Bariloche (Argentina).
- mheu - virtual museum that offers thematic exhibitions comprising a range of works including pictures, literature, sound and video.
- Come2tell - 2008 Virtual online museum of Prehistoric Venus Figurine.
- Carnamah Historical Society - a West Australian community historical society with a small virtual museum.
- The East Indies Museum - the online museum exhibiting an eclectic array of artworks from insular southeast Asia, including antique textiles, wayang puppets, keris, masks, folk art, silver ...
- Museum Syndicate -an on-line museum of worldwide art of painting, architecture and photography including rare art master pieces which are difficult to find elsewhere
- The Museum of Online Museums – catalogues and curates museum websites
- Museum of Antique Sewing Machines – The Gravesham Private Collection of Antique Sewing Machines - an on-line museum.
Research and scholarship 
The digitalization of museums is task that has combined efforts, budgets and research from many museums, cultural associations and governments around the world. For the last few years, there have been projects related to Information Society Technologies dealing with: preservation of cultural heritage, restoration and learning resources. Some examples of contributions in the field of digital and virtual museography: Euromuse.net (EU), DigiCULT (EU), Musings, Digital Museums Projects. European Community has founded various projects to support this filed, like V-Must, the Virtual Museum Transnational Network that aims to provide the heritage sector with the tools and support to develop Virtual Museums that are educational, enjoyable, long-lasting and easy to maintain.
The leading international conference in the field of museums and their websites is the annual Museums and the Web.
In 2004, Roy Hawkey of King's College London reported that "Virtual visitors to museum websites already out-number physical (on-site) visitors, and many of these are engaged in dedicated learning".
In establishing virtuality and promoting cultural development, the goal is not merely to reproduce existing objects, but to actualize new ones. Information and communication technologies are not merely tools for processing data and making it available, but can be a force and stimulus for cultural development.
Interactive environments 
There are several types of interactive environments. One is to re-create 3D space with visual representations of the museum by a 3D architectural metaphor, which provides a sense of place using various spatial references. They usually use 3D modelling, VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language) and now X3D(successor to VRML) for viewing. There have been introduced various kinds of imaging techniques for building virtual museums, such as infrared reflectography, X-Ray imaging, 3D laser scanning, IBMR (Image Based Rendering and Modeling) techniques. In the case of EU-funded projects, the ViHAP3D, a new virtual reality system for scanning museum artifacts, has been developed by EU researchers. Another interactive three dimensional spatial environment is QTVR. Being a pre-rendered, fixed environment it is more restricted in regards to moving freely around in 3D space but the image quality can be superior to that of real-time rendered environments. This was especially the case in the mid 1990s when computing power and online speeds were limited.
Mobile telepresence 
In 2013, the National Museum of Australia and the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) trialled a virtual museum tour system that uses mobile telepresence technology and requires a high-speed broadband connection. The technology allows remote visitors, for example school students from regional and remote Australia, to interact with a museum facilitator through a robot equipped with an omni-directional camera. Each remote visitor is able to control their own view of the museum gallery.
Domain names 
Museums have a variety of top-level domain names. Most are .org. Some are .gov, or governmental domains for other countries. A few are .edu, either as part of a larger educational institution, or grandfathered in when .edu regulations changed (e.g. with the Exploratorium). The .museum domain name used by some museums, as organized by from MuseDoma.
See also 
- Virtual Library museums pages
- Museology (also called museum studies) is the study of how to organize and manage museums and museum collections.
- Mobile museums (in RVs) - A different kind of mobile museum, when a museum is on an RV and drives to audiences
- 3D STELLWERK - Walk-Through online 3D Museums Software (made with Unity3D Technology)
- Jonathan P. Bowen, Jim Angus, Jim Bennett, Ann Borda, Alpay Beler , Andrew Hodges, and Silvia Filippini-Fantoni, The Development of Science Museum Websites: Case Studies. In Leo Tan Wee Hin and Ramanathan Subramaniam (eds.), E-learning and Virtual Science Centers, Section 3: Case Studies, Chapter XVIII, pages 366–392. Idea Group Publishing, Hershey, USA, 2005.
- Jonathan P. Bowen, Jim Bennett, and James Johnson, Virtual Visits to Virtual Museums. In Jennifer Trant and David Bearman (eds.), Proc. Museums and the Web 1998, Toronto, Canada, 22–25 April 1998. CD-ROM, Archives & Museum Informatics, 5501 Walnut Street, Suite 203, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15232-2311, USA, 1998.
- Jonathan Bowen, A Brief History of Early Museums Online, The Rutherford Journal, Volume 3, 2010.
- Michael Douma (2000). Lessons learned from WebExhibits.org: Practical suggestions for good design. In: Museums and the Web 2000. Proceedings. Ed. by David Bearman & Jennifer Trant.
- Schweibenz, Werner. "The Development of Virtual Museums". ICOMNEWS. no. 3. 2004.
- Kennicott, Philip (2011-02-01). "Google Art Project: 'Street view' technology added to museums". The Washington Post, Arts Post. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
- "V-MUST: Virtual Museum Transnational Network; a EU FP7-funded Network of Excellence". Retrieved 2013-03-21.
- Hawkey, Roy (2004-09). "Learning with digital technologies in museums, science centres and galleries". Futurelab. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
- Elisa Giaccardi, Collective Storytelling and Social Creativity in the Virtual Museum: A Case Study. Design Issues, 22(3):29–41, 2006.
- Mobile telepresence: National Museum of Australia
- Museum Robot: CSIRO
- 'CSIRO telepresence robots connect students with National Museum', Computerworld, 21 March 2013
- "virtual.museum" index, MuseDoma.