Retiring the Museum Informatics and Interactive University projects

July 27, 2015

Though Research IT is heavily focused on the design and delivery of new services to support current research on the Berkeley campus, Research IT team members worked hard in 2014-15 to retire a number of systems and projects that once defined the cutting edge of information technology in scholarship. While the retirement of the Research Hub is perhaps the most well known effort, here we describe the effort required to retire two major projects other than Research Hub, and reflect on the lessons learned from them.

The Museum Informatics Project

The Museum Informatics Project (MIP) set out in the early 1990s to build a world-class team and facility to digitize, manage, and share information about campus museum collections. Over its twenty-year history, MIP helped a diverse range of campus museums, visual resource collections, and individual researchers initiate major digitization and web site projects.  Terabytes of images were digitized and stored.  A major software platform -- xdb -- was developed to manage collections metadata, and web sites were built to share collections information with researchers and the public.  By 2005 the xdb platform was showing its age, and the needs of campus research collections had evolved beyond its functionality. Research IT archived and shut down the last of the MIP systems and web sites at the end of June 2015.

The Interactive University

The Interactive University Project (IU) opened UC Berkeley's unique resources and people to California’s K-12 schools and citizens, beginning in 1996. IU sought to democratize the content and community of the campus through the medium of technology.  Funding for IU ended as responsibility for efforts of this kind shifted to campus groups such as Educational Technology Services.  In 2005, the Interactive University web site became a static repository; this past June, the machine hosting that content was retired.

A partial list of MIP and IU alumni is included at the end of this article to honor the dedicated staff who enabled these projects to succeed. To preserve the fruits of their labor, Research IT is archiving the web sites, software, metadata, and digital assets that were built and managed by MIP and IU (contact if you have questions about this content). In addition, Research IT maintains summary pages for these projects ( and The original project URLs now redirect to these historical summaries.

MIP and IU, though retired, live on as part of the DNA of Research IT. Research IT continues a long tradition of working with the research collections managed on campus through support of CollectionSpace. We collaborate closely with Educational Technology Services and other groups whose mandates address the intersection of technology, Berkeley’s wealth of knowledge and expertise, and the public mission of the campus -- a space once inhabited by the Interactive University.Though IU and MIP are retired, their value and history continue to inform our work.

A partial list of project participants, listed alphabetically

Museum Informatics Project
Randy Ballew
Jim Beach
Effie Dilworth
Thomas Duncan
Linda Erskine
Pam Inger Riby
Glen Jackson
Debbie Kelly
Jeff Lang
Claire Le Donne
Chris Meacham
Natalie Munn
Peter Rauch
Susan Stone
Michael Thompson
Lam Voong

Interactive University
Chris Ashley
Shifra Gaman 
David Greenbaum
Jim Harris
Rick Jaffe
Karin Kusuda
Jane Lee
Adam Lim
Isaac Mankita
Deborah McKoy
Barbara Morgan
Tom Schirmer
Raymond Yee
Lisa Yesson
Catherine Yoes