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Museum of Art launches online store

Tampa's city government includes the store on its Web site, with more services to come.

Daryl Umberger
February 21, 2001

The store at Tampa's Museum of Art is now online at the city's Web site, with items from books to jewelry available for sale.

Marking the combination of commerce with public service information at www.TampaGov.com the Guilders Museum Store made its online debut last month. It is the first feature on the Web site to use financial transactions, and begins the move toward making other city departments available online.

Soon, Web site designers said, residents will be able to pay their utility bills over the site. The goal is to make Tampa's government more accessible and available.

"Primarily, we're trying to help the city be more open to doing business with the customers at the customer's own convenience ... so that the government is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Mukesh Patel, president of Florida Local Interactive.

The Ashley Street company is a subsidiary of National Information Consortium, which puts city, state and county governments online.

"We were very pleased when the city selected us as their premiere site. A lot of museums do not have electronic shopping for their stores. We did a lot of research and. discovered that only the big museums had it," said Lani Czyzewski, a spokeswoman for the museum.

The online museum store has 50 items available for sale, with more to come. Prices range from $15 for hand-painted dolls to a $450 glass bowl by artist Susan Gott.

"I don't think we'll ever have everything online because we sell 10,000 items, plus we have works that are one of a kind, so it does become a problem of logistics if 200 people want the same glass bowl," Czyzewski said.

The museum's own Web site, which has been online for more than a year, has made items available for purchase before.

"We've always' had people who could call in and give their credit card number over the phone, so (online shopping) simplifies things," Czyzewski said.

More features will be added to the city's site within the next month. CCTV, the city's government access channel, will be available through real-time streaming video. Also, residents will be able to request copies of police reports for a flat fee.

"Currently, the citizen has to come downtown, park, stand in line and pay for the report. We're going to provide that service so they can request a copy over the Internet and mail that to them," said Steve Cantler, project leader for Management Information Systems, which handles information technology under the city's Department of Administration.

By March, the site will be redesigned to help market it as the city's official online destination for Web users.

"The whole city Web site is going to be redesigned, with a logo to brand and market the site. The goal from the citizen's point of view is that they can come into the portal (and can conduct their business) without having to figure out what department to use," said Patel.

A portal is Web site that offers a range of services to attract a large audience.

That means Tampa residents soon should be able to pay water and sewer bills online.

Contractors also should be able to pull permits and residents should be able to rent off-duty police for private affairs such as parties or funeral processions.

The target date for making those services available is six, months, said Patel.