A “Scorching” Review of The Lost Museum

Aesthetics and Organization + Content

I was immediately drawn to “The Lost Museum’s” website the moment I glanced at the title. Of all the names on the list, it was this one in particular that stood out, which is always a good start. Upon clicking the link to the website one will be drawn to a video that briefly summarizes the history behind the short-lived Barnum’s American Museum. The viewers are able to feel the exuberance in the narrator’s voice, making the video all the more engaging. That being said, I do not feel that the minimalistic look of this website is particularly appealing. Aesthetics aside, it seems to me that there is a disconnect between the theme of the website and the background. Because this website is dedicated to Barnum’s American Museum I would have enjoyed seeing a banner with a vintage picture of the museum prior to being consumed by the fire of 1865.

The Lost Museum’s home page

The website is well organized into the categories: home, about us, archive, and classroom. The “about us” tab offers credit to those who collaborated with the American Social History Project, a list of sponsors that support the website, as well as a list of awards that they have won. I am deeply appreciative that the website provides everyone contact information should one have any inquiries regarding the website.

Should one become curious and decide that they’d like to learn more about what the museum once had to offer, likewise there is a tab for that! The archive tab allows guests of the website the chance to search for documents stored in archives and even a look at past exhibitions in Barnum’s American Museum.

Finally, the Classroom tab on the left-hand corner of the website presents visitors with “resources and strategies” meant to aid in better understanding the information that one might come across when they are searching through the archives. The creator of this website clearly went above and beyond in order to organize each tab in an orderly fashion.

Sample article of one of the past exhibitions at Barnum's American Museum
A sample article of one of the past exhibitions at Barnum’s American Museum


The More You Know

While the loss of Barnum’s American Museum was considered tragic, it should be noted that the museum exploited deformities as well as popular misconceptions about race. One of the most prominent cases of exploitation in the short-lived museum’s history was William Henry Johnson. It is now believed that Johnson suffered from the medical disorder known as microcephaly. Barnum’s American Museum capitalized on the growing popularity of Darwinism by showcasing Johnson as one of their main exhibits to show that African’s were capable of evolving as a race.


I feel that this website lacks an element that will truly engage people. That isn’t to say that it isn’t to say that this is an inferior website, merely that I would like to see an element that will draw even more visitors to it. The name alone was the sole reason why I choose to review this particular website without rubric, yet I feel that it was unable to live up to the name. In order for something to remain relevant in this day and age, there must be an interactive element. It can be argued that “Solving The Mystery” (that can be found near the bottom of the video to the right-hand corner) solves that, however, I do not feel that everyone will be keen on signing up for a website just to access this feature.

This is an example of what the 3D mystery game has to offer in order to view this page you must create an account


Functionality and Accessibility

The website is not overly complicated, save for the archives tab. The saving grace is the Classroom tab that supplies those who visit the website with a tool to better understand the information given in the archive tab. The search engine feels dated, however, it does its job well and I was able to click on each link without a single malfunction.


The Website’s Final Scores

Aesthetics: 2/10

Organization: 9/10

Content: 8/10

Relevance: 4/10

Functionality and Accessibility: 9/10


This website has the potential to be very interesting, considering the rich (but short) history of the museum, however, I feel that the design holds it back from achieving true greatness. I would recommend this website to history aficionados as of now, but not to someone who does not care for the subject. Otherwise, it falls flat of my expectations. That isn’t to say that my opinion should impact anyone from visiting this interesting website because it has a great deal to offer despite its shortcomings.