NetX helps National WWII Museum drill down on history

January 7, 2019
Photo caption: Dozens of Delta Shipbuilding Company workers in New Orleans, Louisiana during World War II
Photo credit: Courtesy of The National World War II Museum
  • Founded in 1999, the National WWII Museum helps tell the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today – so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.

  • Located in downtown New Orleans on a six-acre campus, the museum houses five soaring pavilions, historical exhibits, on-site restoration work, a period dinner theater and restaurants.

  • Its expansive collections include more than 250,000 artifacts and over 9,000 personal accounts supporting major exhibits and research.

  • The museum contains 5,000-plus videotaped oral histories and they continue to receive more as a team of employees crisscross the country for targeted collecting of digital stories.

The Challenge

With an abundance of digital materials, notably video, when users searched for content, they were served hours of interviews. Being able to get to the exact content within the digital stories that users were interested in was the key issue the WWII Museum was looking to solve with NetX.

Though an existing collections management system, EMu, helped record and catalog the museum’s collection, from digital assets to a huge B-24 bomber airplane hanging in one of the buildings, to tiny buttons or pieces of paper, these were typically meant more as reference materials and not as housed digital assets. The collections management system also lacked the ability to view and create digital stories within the videos, which was a major goal of the museum to implement for visitors.

The Goals

The museum needed a system that let its users, from consumers to historians, either on the website or at the museum, get specific video footage without having to watch hours of footage, says David Robinson, museum technologist. This meant they needed a solution that would allow them to create specific clips of a larger video, without requiring them to store newly created video files.

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Video caption: Wilson Shoughrue: Start of the Battle of the Bulge
Video credit: Courtesy of The National World War II Museum

The Solution

By using the NetX Video Clip tool, entire interviews are now annotated, and metadata can be associated with time codes, letting the user jump to the moment in an interview that a certain subject is mentioned, rather than watching the entire video. The system allows Robinson and his team to create clips, without increasing storage, by only creating new video files when requested as a download.

NetX has become the system of record that communicates with the collections management system, and the collections and main museum websites.

Implementation

Using the NetX Data Source Sync tool, the museum was able to map its existing metadata from its collections management system directly into NetX. Its current collections management system can now push metadata over into NetX when needed, from either a new record, or newly digitized content. Now, if curators find a mistake in a record, they can fix it in the collections management system then “force” that fix to migrate into NetX.

Outcomes

Like any museum, its digital collection needs to stay vibrant and accessible for visitors and researchers alike. As materials keep coming, and as the museum publishes them, it’s going to be important for Robinson and his team to ensure that digital assets are stored and published in NetX, and that they are easily accessible and searchable. With an increase in virtual field trips and academics who are researching specific footage at the museum and on the website, he expects NetX to be an even bigger focus.

“I feel like we're part of a team and that NetX is responsive to requests and responsive to how we use things to make the tools better for us,” adds Robinson.

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