Because museums are not inherently participatory but can use digital integration to enhance the experience. Around the world museums are transforming history into a multimedia experience. Author and exhibit designer Nina Simon writes on her blog that museums can evolve in the way the web has from 1.0 to 2.0. She says, like the web, museums have the potential, “to transform from static content authorities to dynamic platforms for content generation, dialogue and sharing.” And many museums are already doing just that.
1. Digital Museum Integration Resource
Seb Chan, primary contributor to Sydney Australia’s Powerhouse Museum blog, Fresh + New, writes about digital media and museums. Since I won’t be in Sydney to visit the real exhibit anytime soon I enjoyed The 80s are Back microsite he created (he explores other exhibits, too). His posts are not solely about the Powerhouse Museum; rather he explores international museums use of digital technologies. While some of his posts explore higher computing sciences in research and technology institutions, most are interesting case studies of digitally enhanced exhibits as well as other works around the world enhancing the field of museum digital integration. Seb’s blog piqued my interest to further explore the subject and was used as a reference for this post.
2. QR Codes
Have you ever been in a museum, read the brief item explanation, and then craved more information? But couldn’t find a docent or curator to seek out answers? Mobile technologies are the future of museum exhibits, acting as a virtual docent to provide more information. QR, or quick response, codes are a natural fit in the museum environment. They provide additional context to those seeking more information. QR codes look a bit like standard bar codes but hold more information and require less effort than typing in a URL, according to Dana Oshiro in an article on Mashable. Andy Ramsden, head of e-learning at the University of Bath, explores the use of QR codes in learning environments, and reports that students “find the use of QR Codes to access information very appealing compared to manual entry of information on their phone.” The ultimate learning environments, including universities and museums, are incorporating QR codes into exhibits to encourage engagement with visitors.
3. Augmented Reality
The magic of good museums is that they offer “edutainment,” and augmented reality is taking this concept to the next level. Augmented reality is the layering of digital elements over a real-world experience via a digital screen or other medium. TheMuseum of London exhibit, Streetmuseum, uses your phone to explore the streets of London from a historical perspective and incorporates over 200 images from the Galleries of Modern London exhibits. The Netherlands Architecture Institute launched an Urban Augmented Reality application, NAi UAR, to show the user various stages of architecture in the city of Rotterdam.Jasper Visser compared the AR app to a human tour guide, and concluded, “In NAi’s tour the combination of a tour guide and the UAR mobile app combined the best of both worlds.”
Imagine looking through 2,000 years of European history by reading first-hand accounts and diaries on your home computer. Europeana is funded by the European Commission and run byEuropeana Foundation. It allows users to search primary material from nearly 1,500 cultural institutions. The site features virtual exhibitions similar to their launch video, recognizes all the official languages in the European Union, allows users to add tags to documents and offers advanced search capabilities by language, country, date and provider. According to the FAQs, the site hopes to eventually accept digital content from individuals as well. Give them a shout @EuropeanaEU to offer feedback about your experience.
See also: The World Digital Library, supported by UNESCO and other financial contributors is a resource that, according to the site, “makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.”
5. The Future of Digital Integration in Museum Exhibits
The Marcus Institute for Digital Education in the Arts released its2010 Horizon Report: Museum Edition earlier this month, highlighting key trends and challenges for the next five years. The road map for the current year (2010 into 2011) includes mobile and social integration into museum exhibitions, followed in the next two to three years by augmented reality and location-based services. Gesture-based computing, or “interfaces [that] allow users to engage in virtual activities with motion and movement similar to what they would use in the real world, manipulating content intuitively,” according to the report, and thesemantic web round out the next five years of digital adoption into museum technologies. Visit the Horizon Report: Museum Edition Wiki to explore further information about museum technologies and about the report research process.
What digital integrations have you seen at museums?
[via Edelman Digital]