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Abstract -- Virtual Museums: Enjoy the Monumentale Cemetery of Milano through the Internet Users Track
U1: Innovative Designs for Users

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Virtual Museums: Enjoy the Monumentale Cemetery of Milano through the Internet

Padula, Marco ( padula@nerve.itim.mi.cnr.it)
Celati, A.
Palumbo, L.
Negroni, E.
Perucca, M.
Rinaldi, G. Rubbia
Ventura, A. Della



This paper illustrates an Internet hypermedial application [ACM 1994] addressed to the exploitation of cultural heritage, specifically of 3-Dimensional manufactured works (monuments and accessories) which have been the object of surveys at the Monumentale Cemetery of Milano, Italy.


The Monumentale Cemetery, designed by Carlo Maciachini in 1863, is considered the mirror of a society and the biggest museum of sculptures existing in Italy [Pietrantoni & Gardin 1992, Melano & Veronesi 1991, Melano 1994]. Today's multimedia information technologies allow to speak about "virtual museums", to enjoy a country's cultural heritage anywhere in the world without leaving one's confortable chair. Therefore what is proposed here is a flexible system which can be updated in real time and fitted to different user typologies, precisely students and tourists, people responsible for monument preservation and maintenance, but also technical and admistrative personnel.

Why hypermedia?

The documental material made available by the surveys is heterogeneous, being constituted by: the "Survey form" containing the monument location coordinates and the owner personal data (name, birth and deathdate, ...), and some "Notes" concerning the degree of conservation; photographs representing global views and details of the monuments and orthogonal projections. It therefore represents a multimedia archive which comprehends formatted data, free texts, color and black-and-white images. Through the realized system, the set of monuments can be visited according to different modalities of consultation, such as researches on: monument technical data, content of the inscriptions, iconographic subjects of sculptures and decorations, and conservation characteristics.

Integrated system

Flexible system use arises from the integration [Celati 1994] of three specific components:

a DataBase Management System to organise and manage the formatted data contained in the Survey form;
an Information Retrieval System to access documents which have been indexed according to iconographic subjects represented in the images (photographs to the monument) and to the content of the inscriptions (epitaphs) and of the Notes;
an Hypermedia System to navigate through the document archive The June 1995 release of the system has been developped on a UNIX Workstation with a 1152x900 color monitor, by integrating software public domain with commercial packages and in-house developped programs. Specifically, World Wide Web and Netscape have been used to realize the interface and to allow user (hypertextual) navigation within the system; S-Wish for Information Retrieval activities and C-SQL Informix for formatted data management through GSQL interface.

Which roles?

The profitable use of the system is guaranteed only by the cooperation [Ehn 1988] of different skilled people, each one contributing to both the design and implementation of the system according to his/her specific experience and cultural background. In facts, the design task requires the integration of experiences on one side from the specific domains of interest, therefore from history of art, visual communication, cultural heritage preservation, on the other from information technologies. Communicating the museum [Negroni 1992 - 1994, Lugli 1992, Vercelloni 1994] involves decisions about "what has to be shown, why, and to whom". In the realization of the virtual museum this determines the organization of the documental material and the definition and implementation of the visual interface and of the navigational structure.