Immersion and Participation in Museums: a digital debate


Deborah Howes, USA , Makoto Manabe, Japan, Erica Lee, Taiwan, Sara Bodinson, USA, Fang-yin Lin, Taiwan

Published paper: Discovering the Yuan Ming Yuan: From Lyrical to Painterly to Virtual Reality

Wandering through museum galleries, sometimes enhanced by an audio guide or kiosk consultation, provided a suitably rich and frequently memorable experience for the 20th century museum visitor. Today, museum professionals are struggling to achieve the right balance of technology, objects and information that will provide a complete and satisfying experience for artists, scholars, visitors and museum staff alike. At least three dynamic factors are at play: 1. As technology has become increasingly powerful, its physical presence has radically diminished, along with its price, making its incorporation into museum space irresistible. 2.Visitors increasingly rely on personal digital devices to manage their understanding of the everyday world, possibly making museum-provided information devices less appealing. 3. Collection objects and artworks are made from digital materials and require digital behaviors that challenge gallery decorum and visitors expectations. Some believe museums should remain technology-free havens for a digitally-weary public, leaving the technology-rich experiences for dedicated entertainment venues. Others encourage museums to embrace the language and behavior of ubiquitous digital activity. What should museums do to support visitors experience in the 21st century? This panel of curatorial, education and media experts will debate the challenges and opportunities of incorporating digital technology into museum galleries.

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