Native American Museum Hangs Collection in Cyberspace


The Native American Resource Center at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has a new address:

Henry Berry LowrieSome of the museum's collection of Indian artifacts and history hangs in the comprehensive, multimedia website. Created with the help of a North Carolina Humanities Council grant, the Internet site contains photographs of exhibits, history and audio recordings of local Native American music and Lumbee Tribal elders.

Museum Director Dr. Stanley Knick said the Internet project is another avenue to realize the museum's mission. "We're in the information business, and this is another way of getting information out about Native American history and culture," Dr. Knick said. "It appears to be having an effect already. We've had some responses from people near and far either asking questions about the museum or commenting on their visit."

The Internet site is organized to simulate a walking tour of the museum, said Dr. Oscar Patterson, director of UNCP telecommunications and supervisor of construction for the site.

"If you went through the museum right now, this is what you'd see," Dr. Patterson said. "We attempted to be as faithful as the medium allows to the physical plan of the museum." While a cyberspace museum has some limitations, it has many advantages besides worldwide accessibility.

"We plan to update the site frequently and expand it in several directions," Dr. Knick said. "There are some costs associated with its creation, but now it is part of what we do every day."

The museum's quarterly newsletter, traveling exhibits, scholarly articles and video are all possibilities for the future. Internet "chat rooms" with lectures and discussions and live video are also possibilities for the museum.

"My hope is that we can have art exhibits like next month's ‘Keeping the Circle' hang in our site," Dr. Knick said.

The Native American Resource Center is one of the distinctive features of UNC Pembroke, and the new Internet exhibit highlights its collections.

"It is something that not every university has, and the museum links the University to its past," Dr. Knick said. "I think this is a real good opportunity for us to show the world what we have to offer."