In fall 2007, a group of graduate students in the UC Berkeley School of Information (I School) were looking for a museum partner for their Master's final project. They wanted to apply Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques to the cultural heritage sector. The students brought technical expertise in NLP, information architecture, database design, and web technologies, balanced with expertise in user-centered design, needs assessment, and information visualization. An IST contact working with the Berkeley Natural History Museums (BNHM) consortium connected the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology (PAHMA) and the I School students, and the Delphi project was born.
Delphi -- the collection browser face of the PAHMA web site until 2016, when it was replaced by its current Collections Portal -- featured support for searching, browsing, and viewing information about objects, creating and viewing sets of objects, and annotating objects in the collections. The Delphi faceted browser provided a simple way to navigate through museum collections, and helped visitors discover concepts and relationships between objects that may not otherwise have been obvious.