Clara Barton's House Goes High-Tech
Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, knew how to heal the wounded, but surfing the web was probably not something she did often, especially considering she died in 1912. Well, fortunately for us, the modern day web surfers of the world, the Park Service has set up a new online exhibit which provides an interactive look at her home in Glenn Echo. The entrance to the virtual home tour can be found here:
The program is operated using Flash technology. It includes 360 degree photography of nearly every room of the house, extra photos of detail pieces in the house, and additional information about some of the objects in the photos. There is another segment of the tour aimed at school-aged kids which provides a self-test type application, which will eventually be folded into a curriculum-based program for teachers. As described in the Park Service release,
This new program is designed to engage school children and general audiences in the story of Clara Barton and the American Red Cross (ARC). Audiences can experience and view the offices, supply rooms, and living quarters as if they were actually in the home. In some ways, on-line audiences experience the home and its collection in even more detail. Users can "enter" 15 restored rooms and spaces and experience a complete 360-degree view with the use of a computer mouse. Within the rooms and hallways, users can view historic photographs, documents and objects, as well as click on hot-links and listen to simulated audio clips of Miss Barton's "voice."
As far as house tours go, it is good. I learned a thing or two about Clara Barton, and enjoyed some of the audio elements as well as the overall production value of the tour. I have one big complaint though, the virtual tour wants to take over the whole screen. The script on the page resizes a browser window to its maximum size, blocking out all other windows on the screen. A very annoying behavior, and really, not unnecessary since the size of the main program was limited to just a small square in the center of the browser. But, don't let that stop you if you are at least a bit curious to learn about Barton and life with the Red Cross.