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Friday, September 28, 2007

Smithsonian debuts 'virtual museum'

Web site enables students, teachers to explore African American history and culture.

The Smithsonian Institution's new museum dedicated to black history and culture launched Sept. 26 with an interactive web site--long before its building opens for visitors on the National Mall.
Social-networking technology donated by IBM Corp. will allow visitors to help produce content for future exhibits at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Almost anything is fair game--long essays, short vignettes of memories, or recorded oral histories. The museum plans to add video capabilities in the future.
"The culture of the African American experience ... is too important to wait five or 10 years until the building is open," said Lonnie Bunch, the museum's founding director. "I wanted people to know that from the day I was hired, this museum exists."
Museum staff will monitor the site for historical accuracy, and technical filters will block racist or inappropriate comments, said Bunch, adding that the site is really a "virtual museum" and a new source of research for curators, scholars, and students.

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