A couple of projects have come to my attention lately that underscore the role digitization and virtual reality will have in making collections of all kinds available to scholars, students and the public.
Ancient Rome is rebuilt digitally - Yahoo! News with a link to Rome Reborn 1.0 is one and the article from associated press, Virtual Tours offer trips through time with links to other projects is another.
If you are wondering why you might bother with Second Life, I think this should give at least a partial answer. I think this could lead to an interesting integration of collections of artifacts that will be digitized not just in the traditional sense of creating an image, but actually rendered in a 3-d virtual sense that would allow them to be embedded in virtual world simulations and manipulated as objects in the virtual space.