• Ann Neumann Questions

    Questions for Ann Neumann

    How do you keep the AI exhibit from going out of date in a few months?

    Many of the state-of-the-art models are currently proprietary and may not be fully understood, so how do you work around that when designing an exhibit?

    How long did it take to design the AI exhibit what was the timeline like? How long will it take to react to current changes?

    How is the AI section of the museum going to deal with Marvin Minsky and his controversy?

    Who made the poem generator? Was it fine-tuned in hours by the MIT Museum made in a lab, etc?

  • The future of AI in museums

    I thought that both of these articles are very interesting, but seemed a bit out of date. This use of AI described by both articles has been in use for a long time (some of which I forgot are technically classified as AI). This gives me the sense that museums are quite far behind in using this technology. For the first article, I was interested in the robot art critic. I did not think this was a good use of AI, as first, people do not do a good job of physically showing their sentiment towards objects at museums, and second, I do not know what value this adds for the visitors. I think what is important at a museum is that visitors get to form their own opinions about the objects, and get to decide for themselves what is their favorite. This sentiment analysis can be useful for the museum, but I do not see how this technology in the form of a roaming robot helps enhance the guest experience. For the second article, I also felt that this was a very limited use of AI (and again, this is very old technology). I am shocked it took that long to create a portal for metadata generation. I really like the idea of creating new ways to explore the collection, but I think there are much better ways to implement this and promote exploration rather than explicit search.

    I think that Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize the museum experience, both at the museum and online. In the future, AI could be used to create personalized virtual tours, suggesting exhibits and collections based on users’ interests and preferences. Additionally, AI could enhance storytelling and interpretation by generating contextually relevant content, such as visuals or narratives, to accompany the existing exhibits. This could lead to more immersive and engaging visitor experiences. As talked about in the second article, using AI to generate data about the collections can make API access much more complete and useful. I think the question that remains is what to do with works that are created by AI. I am personally of the opinion that these do belong in museums, and that the role of a “creator” is going to shift radically.

  • reading AI

    A few thoughts on the readings:

    1. It’s suprising to me that the first instinct for people would be to develop a humanoid robot to interact with visitors – seems very gimmicky. Would be curious to hear how the Smithsonian experiment ended.

    CUsueum: THe vitualization of the industry (such as remote visits) suprised me – I didn’t expect musuems to be able to successfully virtualize, and having seen other virtual items I wonder which visitors prefer this – is this school groups?

    Also interesting was the part on cybersec in the Cusuem article – it really seems lkike they’;re fishing at straws. Most of the data breaches that account for their numbers involve medical data or high-priced PII, along with people who are willing to pay and have money to spend.

  • reading-14-tklouie

    I found these readings extremely enlightening about the holistic use of AI in museums. In general, I believe that AI and ML can be used as a buzzword in today’s technology sphere and inventions, it comes to indicate this all-knowing purpose of the future and all-doing system. As the Styx article mentions, many people tend to think of AI as these robot helpers that can interact with visitors, a replacement for a human. I personally have also tended to judge AI with a negative bias because of the promises that tend to come with the buzzword. However, these articles bring up useful and advanced examples of applying AI to solve problems within the backend of museums.

    However, AI is still a highly tailored system that needs to work on specific datasets and in controlled environments, which museums provide through their collections. Since these collections are comprehensive and internalized, and often also come with embedded related knowledge already, this is the perfect place for AI to thrive. One massive generative AI piece that I have thought about often is the Refik Andol: Unsupervised piece in the Moma. It is a large-scale constantly generating show based on the museums’ collections. It is a fantastic piece to watch in action, and also has an interesting display that explains to visitors how AI is made. I also believe generative AI can be used in the art form to be a strongly spoken criticism to how AI is treated as an objective creation, when it is truly ingrained with many biases. This brings into question whether it is good to have truly unsupervised generation, or if there needs to constantly be human oversight. I agree with the CHM paper that the project needs to be well defined and with careful requirements.

    My final thought is that AI, currently a very text and 2-d image centric, especially even 2-d generation is only picking up in a widespread manner now with Dall-e and other image generator prompts. I am excited to see what 3-d AI generation could bring, not just computer models, but how it has and can change fabrication techniques, and consequently human-computer interactions, in the future.

    (Reposted ?? I’m having trouble publishing my readings on github they don’t seem to be consistantly going through)

  • On AI and Museums - JL

    On the Brock (2022) reading, a quote that stood out to me was: “external users feel more strongly that anything that allows expanded access to the collection has value”. And from the Styx (2021) reading, I think the general sentiment expressed of paralleling AI to the Internet and that to be left behind (i.e. not integrating and using AI) would be like not using digital media or leveraging huge potential. These ideas come together in the conflict and tension that we’ve already been exploring in class: how do you keep up / utilize AI in a way that’s meaningful and impactful (along the lines of expanding access (Brock, 2022)) while not falling behind (Styx, 2021)?

    It’s interesting to note that both these articles are from prior years, before ChatGPT and the seeming boom of AI and generative technologies; even the other two articles, one from Jan 2022 and one from March 2023, almost seem out of date; for myself at least, my Twitter feed and so much media that’s around is harping on how new AI tools are being released every single day and don’t fall behind and make sure you’re maximizing your potential.

    With this kind of fervor – and always keeping in mind I/we may be in an echo chamber and we may still be very early in the hype cycle – how can you show visitors what you want to show, engage them in the ways that you want, and keep up? The MSU (2023) blog post written in March 2023 was centered around inviting people to use the AI to create generative art and then the art would be shared by being displayed in and around the museum. I wonder if this is creating the conversation piece that’s desired?

    Something interesting could be, since it feels like everyone has something they may want to say / do with the AI, leveraging the museum as an innovative space: granting access to the technologies and then opening up room for discussion and conversation, turning the museum into a social setting for collaboration and conversation. Science is always evolving, right now we may be at a nascent period or a rapidly changing period so right now it feels like we’re in a storm, do we wait for it to calm down or do we do what we can in this moment?

  • CMS AI Reading

    I think generative AI has a lot of potential to revolutionize the museum experience by enabling new ways to create, curate, and interpret art and artifacts.

    For example, generative AI can be used to create virtual exhibitions that simulate the experience of visiting a physical museum. By generating 3D models of artworks and artifacts, generative AI can create interactive virtual spaces that enable visitors to explore the exhibition at their own pace, in a way that feels immersive and engaging, while also enhancing the accessibility of visiting museums. Generative AI can also be used to restore damaged or incomplete artworks by generating missing parts or filling in gaps. This technology can help preserve the integrity of historical works of art while enabling museum visitors to see the art in its original form. Additionally, generative AI can be used as a tool for artistic collaboration, enabling artists to work together on a shared project by generating new ideas and forms. By working with generative AI, artists can push the boundaries of their creative expression and create works of art that would be impossible to achieve through traditional methods. Among all the potential uses of generative AI, the two that struck me the most were the interactive interpretation, and the learning experience, which were both presented in the reading. In the first reading, it talks about how they designed the little robot that is able to detect people’s reactions to the artworks and learn their preferences. This is a very cool way of imitation that allows the visitors to be more aware of their opinions and expressions. Generative AI can be used to create such interactive exhibits that respond to visitors’ movements and actions. For example, generative AI could also be used to create a virtual sculpture that changes shape as visitors walk around it or a virtual painting that responds to the movements of visitors in the room. For the learning experience, I love how “ Elizabeth Merritt points to a possible AI application in which visitors could eventually interact with historical figures at history museums through chatbots that use the figures’ published writings, archives and oral histories. Imagine having a chat with your favorite painter who’s hundreds of years your senior.” It is something that we can not achieve by traditional museum curation. It presents opportunities for generative AI to be used to create educational materials that help visitors learn about art and history. By generating interactive simulations of historical events or people, generative AI can help visitors understand complex concepts in a way that is engaging and immersive.

    Overall, generative AI has the potential to transform the museum experience by enabling new forms of creativity, interactivity, and education. However, it is important for museums to carefully consider the ethical and social implications of using generative AI and to ensure that these technologies are used in a responsible and respectful way.

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  • aouyang-assignment-14


    The first article enumerates the ways in which AI can be used in museums:

    1. Robots to record visitors’ emotions and preferences towards artworks
    2. Interactive robots to answer visitors’ questions and interact with visitors
    3. Data analytics to predict no-shows in order to release more tickets
    4. Image recognition matching pictures with artworks of the gallery
    5. AI for museum operations to measure and forecast visitor behaviors to save operating costs
    6. Sentiment analysis of visitor comments

    Personally I am somewhat skeptical about 1 and 2, as having an object of human-form running around and interacting with / observing you can be an intrusive experience, and that might not work well with museum settings if some visitors prefer a quieter environment to enjoy the art. 3 reminds me airline oversales, but it seems to be a less defined problem in the museum setting. An aircraft has a fixed capacity limited by the number of seats, and if oversales result in exceeding the capacity, the airline would offer incentives for volunteers to give up their seats. However, the capacity of museum spaces is less well-defined, and oversales without adjusting for the capacity (it’s unlikely that museums would offer incentives or enforce a strict capacity) might result in a worse visitor experience. I am the most excited for 5 and 6, which use AI to improve both the visitor experience and the operational / curation practices, without being too visible and intrusive to the museum experience.

    The second article describe a specific museum’s experiments with using machine learning. The blog was written 9 months before the release of chatGPT, before the widely available access of OpenAI APIs. I wonder how the results of the experiment will change with the better machine learning models. I find the following statement interesting, “Throughout the project, it became apparent that the commercial machine learning services are primarily geared toward the needs of commercial customers, for uses in marketing, customer management, call centers, etc… We hope that future experiments with using machine learning tools customized through training on our collection can address these stringent quality requirements.” Based on the numbers in the article, a total of $115000 was spent on this project, including compute and development costs. The budget is very small compared to typical commercial ML projects. Given the budget constraint of the museum (and most likely other museums), I wonder to what extent can models be fine-tuned for museums.

  • AI reading

    The first reading was interesting in showing all the different ways AI could be used in museums, in particular to data analytics and how that can be used in a fun way (robotics) that can also interact with visitors. The second reading was also interesting in terms of learning about how an AI system was designed and integrated into the CHM.

    It feels like adding AI into the museum experience is inevitable, and I can already think of a lot of potential ethical issues in play because of it. I wonder if there are more interactive ways that teach people about how the museums are using their AI, that can also break down the potential stereotypes people come into the museum with from places like movies and TV shows. A way that’s interactive and on the front-end of the experience, similar to what the Smithsonian is doing. I thought the MIT museums had a pretty cool one with the room, but it’s hard to figure out what it responds to- perhaps a more intuitive and informative + cool experience?

  • AI in the Museums

    Styx’s article, “How are museums using AI, and is AI the future of museums?” poses some interesting thoughts and examples of how AI can be used in museums meaningfully. One that I found particularly intriguing was the use of Pepper in the Smithsonian museums. Knowing that Pepper is available to help visitors navigate the museum and answer any questions visitors have can be beneficial to the ease of navigating the museum. But I wonder—knowing that most museums have attendants around exhibits and galleries, is Pepper really necessary? What does Pepper offer that museum attendants cannot? The main thing that comes to mind for me, in that case, is that I assume Pepper is more able to process and deliver information in multiple languages, where not all museum attendants may be able to offer that. This could be especially helpful in busy, international museums, such as the Smithsonians.

    As I’m reading this article, I’m thinking about the latest developments in AI and wondering how the use of more recent updates will be utilized in museum spaces. I’m sure it exists somewhere, but I’d love to see how/if museums are using AI art generators to spark conversations about ethics and art, or engaging visitors in creative processes using AI art generators, such as Dall-e.

    Brock’s article, “A Museum’s Experience with AI,” seems to echo one of the takeaways from Styx’s: AI in museums can increase accessibility for visitors. Brock explains this in the insights when he points to the generating of alt-text for images or translation of museum materials. It seems as though much of the ideas around the use of AI in museums, from both Brock and Styx, point to the use of AI in less user-centered areas, such as museum databases, as well as the use of AI to increase visitor accessibility.

  • AI in the Museum (Anugrah)

    The first article talks about AI from three different perspectives: creating moving exhibits (robots) powered by AI, as a tool to add engaging features to museums (like the selfie finder), and in the background to help power data analytics. I really like the second idea personally - it feels like a really engaging application of AI that can be explained very easily at a high level to a general audience while also increasing the depth of your engagement with the museum. It’s also really easily extendable as generative AI becomes more powerful! One idea I was toying with was trying to use generative AI to create an artwork that summarizes all the art that you saw while walking around a modern art exhibit (just to see what it would look like).

    The third idea is interesting - and something that my group is working on for our final project, so I suppose I’ll have a more experienced opinion about how AI will affect museums this way by the end of the semester. The first idea is the most gimmicky, but it could be interesting - maybe I’d change my mind if I actually saw the robot zooming around the museum.

    The second article was a little confusing to me - I wasn’t completely sure what the project that the CHM had undergone was really aiming to do. My current understanding is that the museum was trying to create a online system to review all the text, video, and image data they had collected about the history of AI over the course of their existence, as well as to use AI tools to create tagged metadata about each piece of the large online “exhibit”. I think the idea is somewhat interesting, but ultimately not that useful - many of the users had a “lukewarm” reception to it as well.

    Part of my issue with the idea is that I just don’t know if the way information is presented in this way is actually that helpful to someone trying to learn about AI. If you’re going to sift through a huge online corpus, I imagine you’d be interested in just taking a real course about AI or reading a few wikipedia articles at which point I presume you’d get the same information but much faster and with less of a time/information bottleneck of having to watch several videos in the museum-video format. Also I suspect that most of the interesting pieces of artificial intelligence happened either 80 or 2 years ago. Almost all the information in between is obsolete or just plain uninteresting. This online collection doesn’t inform the general public about the two big leaps in AI, and is also more clunky than just being able to walk through well-organized educational exhibits.

  • AI in Museums

    I thought that Styx’s piece was all-encompassing in the ways in which it elucidated the various ways museums have benefited from AI over the past few years. This part is particularly enticing: “For example, by using AI to predict the amount of no-shows who took advance passes to a museum that operates at capacity, that museum can increase actual capacity and release more tickets in advance, eliminating that loss of visitors and bolstering museum visitorship.”

    The sentiment analysis, alongside Google’s Arts & Culture app, Art Selfie, has a great participatory value to the museum world. It combined both technologies while still allowing humans to interact with each other, which, to me, I regard as a superior quality.

    However, ethical responsibility remains an ongoing issue that requires the scrutiny of AI’s applications in museums or any other domain. Also, how much AI in the museum is too much? Many of the examples mentioned did not take away from the artwork itself. But with the rising integration of AIs in the museum, one should decide when it’s too much for AI to be implemented in the museum space. 

    In the Brock piece, I very much valued the use of AI in the backstage museum development “OpenCHM”: “Its core strategy is to harness new computing technologies to help us make our collections, exhibits, programs, and other offerings more accessible, especially to a remote, global audience.”

    One interesting thing the article touched upon was designing the portal. They have used sophisticated and expensive technology over the past year. I wonder how that can change with ChatGPT. While it is different, what type of design ideas can be generated if I give ChatGPT certain prompts with specific goals? What types of prototypes can ChatGPT produce? I did ask ChatGPT for that, but I think the most important key is perfecting the prompt. 

  • AI in Museums Commentary

    The interactive AI in museums mentioned in the Styx article are really interesting. It mentioned Recognition, a matching game of recent photojournalism and art and how this was used both inside the museum and virtually. This seems like a really great way for museums to get visitors to engage with pieces that aren’t currently on display and while visitors are at home. I’m wondering how this looked inside of the museum - would the AI suggest similar pieces, and then if pieces were in the museum’s collection, it could show where in the museum it was? There is opportunity here for AI to be used as a way to get visitors to further engage with the museum as opposed to just being a game.

    In the computer history article, I found it interesting that the developers wanted to have users be able to choose between human or machine generated metadata, or a mix. Is this for ethical or security or for comparing the results? Why would they go through the trouble of developing this technology just to also do the work themselves?

    This article also brought up using the machine learning services to provide textual descriptions of images for visually impaired people. How could this best be used in the physical museum context beyond a purely digital platform for virtual images? There’s a lot of room to explore here, maybe having an app that scans the work and reads out the description, though this seems as though it would only work in the context of art museums.

  • Museums and AI

    How are museums using artificial intelligence, and is AI the future of museums?

    This article does a good job of exploring the multiple different avenues through which museums are being affected by AI. While many headlines typically focus on the use of AI in exhibits this article also delves into the important topic of how AI is being used to improve museums as a whole on the service and logistics side. One of the examples the article went into along this front was the humanoid robot Pepper used in the Smithsonian, which helps visitors with their questions and even poses for photos. In the future, I could see AI being used to make information much more accessible to visitors, both about museums and exhibits. Even with our current level of technology, it would be possible for museums to train large language models to answer questions about different exhibits and amenities so visitors could essentially always have a personal guide at their fingertips.


    In this article, the CHM takes the reader through a deep dive into how AI was specifically incorporated into an effort at the CHM to make collections more easily accessible and searchable. The article delves into the incredible amount of development work the CHM team undertook by collaborating with external partners and utilizing Microsoft’s Cognitive Services. In all the team was able to make a successful prototype of a portal containing digital assets and AI-generated metadata. Although the team originally had much grander ideas in mind about creating a sort of graph view to show the connection between search results, they eventually decided to put that aside to limit the scope of their prototype. The results of the evaluation showed that external evaluators were more positive about the utility of the machine-generated metadata than internal evaluators, and they found that automatic transcription of video and audio items using machine-learning tools seemed to be the most useful feature. In all this article does a good job of illustrating all the difficult development and design work that goes into building AI-enabled services, and the great potential that these services can have.

  • AI in Museums

    In the article “How are museums using artificial intelligence, and is AI the future of museums,” the author highlights the potential use of AI in museums and notes that we are still in the learning stage when it comes to using and training AI. They mention how AI can not only provide engagement for the visitors but also help with the museum’s own operations, an aspect I have not seen as much. While having AI in the museum space and interacting with the visitors is an interesting way to showcase AI potential and attract visitors, they can be a lot more helpful if used by the staff themselves. A previous reading mentioned that the modern-day curation process can be complex given how much digital data exists everywhere, and AI could become a more efficient way to help curators and exhibit designers pick and find the right piece of information. AI’s ability to sort through data paired with the decision-making of the human staff could vastly improve and rationalize the choices museums have to make regarding their collections.

    While AI is a powerful tool in many aspects, we still need to make sure that they are used properly and responsibly. All the ethical questions around data collection and biases aside, training an AI to perform adequately can still be difficult as demonstrated in “A Museum’s Experience With AI.” Because of the commercial focus of today’s AI architecture and possibly the black-box nature of AI systems, the CHM realized the challenges that come with using AI in a museum. They found that the AI didn’t provide much beyond the original context of the information given and do not offer helpful insights. A different architecture may be needed in order for AI to process museum data in a more purposeful manner, a task that could potentially take a lot of time and effort but could ultimately transform the museums and their ways of dealing with information.

    One potential use of generative AI I personally would like to see more of is the AI’s ability to create personalized exhibits for visitors. It is always difficult for museums to accommodate the needs and expectations of every visitor who steps in given the different experiences everyone has. Generative AI might be a way to bridge that gap and offer object labels, recommendations, or even entire digital galleries tailored to the visitor’s specifications of what they want to see. A powerful enough AI like ChatGPT might also be deployed as a personal companion to every visitor, offering them an opportunity to chat with the AI about different objects and gain different insights through the AI’s answers. This does require the AI to be specifically created for the museum’s collections and database while also maintaining a high level of correctness and accuracy, but when done right, it could be a powerful tool that allows different visitors to create their own experiences through their conversations with the AI.

  • AI and Museums

    Both readings about AI in museums provided new insights into the role that AI can play in the museum realm. The article “How are museums using artificial intelligence, and is AI the future of museums?” mentions several different examples of AI implementations in museums, such as Berenson, a robotic art critic that records people’s reactions to art to develop its own taste. Another example is Pepper, a robot that interacts with visitors through voice and storytelling. These AI implementations encourage more engagement and deeper thinking from visitors. However, I feel that people may want to interact with the AI simply because it is AI. I am curious about the extent to which a visitor’s motive to engage with the AI stems from a genuine place of interest to learn more about an exhibit and the museum content, or to interact with the AI for the sake of AI. Does the root of why the user chooses to engage matter? On one hand, engagement is engagement regardless of whether the visitor is actually interested in the exhibit or just playing around with AI. At the end of the interaction, they will have more knowledge regardless of their motive. But, I feel that a museum may lose the essence of what they are trying to convey/exhibit under flashy AI robots and implementations. As technologies develop, I think it is even more important for museums/institutions to consider whether the tools they are implementing are necessary or not.

    Like the article states, AI tools such as websites, chatbots, and analytics tools can definitely improve the visitor experience. It is mentioned that AI can help improve access visitors have to the museum by predicting no-shows and allow museum staff to adjust ticket capacities. One thing that came to my mind when I read this was the reading on storytelling, and how opening a door is not enough to make underrepresented members of communities feel more welcome in attending museums. How can AI systems allow for more accessibility for all members of society in the museum realm? The article “A Museum’s Experience with AI” gives us insight into how museum collections can be made more accessible to non-english speakers and provides a glimpse into what a more equitable museum experience may look like. In terms of generative AI, there are many potential uses in the museum field. Generative AI can be used to facilitate art restoration projects, create more immersive experiences, provoke imagination and sensory experiences, etc. I envision a future where generative AI is used to enhance museum experiences for people of all ages and backgrounds, allow for more collaborative processes between museum professionals and community members (improving communication, facilitating decision-making, understanding data, etc), and more. With the advent of a new technological age, it is of course important to consider the potential biases that may be embedded in the foundation models of AI systems and how these may translate into the museum realm.



    The “A Museum’s Experience with AI” article provides valuable insights into the practical application of commercial machine learning tools in a museum setting. It highlights the potential of these tools in expanding access to collections and enhancing user experience, particularly through automatic transcription and translation of audio and video materials. However, it also tells us about certain limitations of the current experiment with machine learning. The author emphasizes the current state of machine-generated metadata may not significantly surpass standard full-text search capabilities.. Also, the article draws attention to the limitations of commercial machine learning services, which are primarily tailored to the needs of businesses rather than cultural institutions. This suggests the need for customization and training of machine learning tools specifically for museum settings to address stringent quality requirements. Additionally, I agree that it’s important to decouple a museum’s database from specific machine learning services, as adopting a flexible architecture would allow museums to adapt better to changing tools and capabilities.

    One thing that AI can do for visitors is to make museums more accessible for them. For instance, AI can automatically generate translation into different languages for foreigners, and also for people with disabilities, AI can even automatically generate sign language for the audio. While AI performs this task, it is important that visitors can clearly differentiate between human generated and machine generated metadata. In this way, users have the flexibility to choose between human and machine generated metadata based on their own preferences and needs.

    Another important thing about applying AI in museums is that the AI system developed should be very flexible and ready for change. First, different museums might have varied specific needs, and the AI tools for museums should be easily customized to the given museum using that museum’s unique corpus of documents. Besides, AI models are updating at an incredibly fast speed, so the museum’s database should be decoupled from specific AI services. This would help create a flexible system where machine learning generated data can be easily imported, replaced, or updated in the museum’s database.


    The “A Museum’s Experience with AI” article provides valuable insights into the practical application of commercial machine learning tools in a museum setting. It highlights the potential of these tools in expanding access to collections and enhancing user experience, particularly through automatic transcription and translation of audio and video materials.

    However, it also tells us about certain limitations of the current experiment with machine learning. The author emphasizes the current state of machine-generated metadata may not significantly surpass standard full-text search capabilities.. Also, the article draws attention to the limitations of commercial machine learning services, which are primarily tailored to the needs of businesses rather than cultural institutions. This suggests the need for customization and training of machine learning tools specifically for museum settings to address stringent quality requirements. Additionally, I agree that it’s important to decouple a museum’s database from specific machine learning services, as adopting a flexible architecture would allow museums to adapt better to changing tools and capabilities.

    One thing that AI can do for visitors is to make museums more accessible for them. For instance, AI can automatically generate translation into different languages for foreigners, and also for people with disabilities, AI can even automatically generate sign language for the audio. While AI performs this task, it is important that visitors can clearly differentiate between human generated and machine generated metadata. In this way, users have the flexibility to choose between human and machine generated metadata based on their own preferences and needs.

    Another important thing about applying AI in museums is that the AI system developed should be very flexible and ready for change. First, different museums might have varied specific needs, and the AI tools for museums should be easily customized to the given museum using that museum’s unique corpus of documents. Besides, AI models are updating at an incredibly fast speed, so the museum’s database should be decoupled from specific AI services. This would help create a flexible system where machine learning generated data can be easily imported, replaced, or updated in the museum’s database.

  • “How are museums using artificial intelligence, and is AI the future of museums?"

    “How are museums using artificial intelligence, and is AI the future of museums?”

    In the article “How are museums using artificial intelligence, and is AI the future of museums,” it’s interesting how the author divides the uses of AI into two parts: direct interaction with visitors and behind-the-scene analytics forecasting visitor behavior. This resembles categorization of museum staff: some serve as tour guides for visitors through direct conversation and others do analytics and curating work behind. However, even when bots are performing basically the same task as human guides in museums, such as answering visitors’ questions and telling stories using voice and gestures, their pure presence makes the whole museum experience more engaging and eye-opening for visitors.

    There are many innovative ways through which AI can help enhance visitors’ experience. Not only serving as an additional guide inside the museum, AI can help make the visitors’ entire museum visit experience more coherent and memorable. For instance, to leave a deeper impression of artworks in the visitors’ minds, AI can match people’s selfies with artworks and provide visitors with a matching game of artworks and photojournalism, as mentioned in the reading. Similarly, I believe AI can do more such tasks to make viewers feel like they are being part of the artwork exhibited. For instance, there can be a virtual dress up application, virtually putting attire or costumes from ancient periods (of personnel in the painting) onto the visitors themselves.

    AI can also help gap the time difference between the artworks and the visitors. Visitors can be given the power to travel back in time and “create” history with AI. For instance, visitors can have simulated conversations with historical figures, which is actually played by the chatbot. Museums can also use AI to create filters that transform visitors’ artworks or photographs into the particular style of an artist, period, or technique. Using AI in this way shortens the distance between the historical works and the contemporary visitors.

  • Transmedia and Storytelling

    I think that the idea of transmedia storytelling is very interesting and practical as well as it really focuses on systematically dispersing integral elements of a fiction across multiple delivery channels, which effectively helps the visitors obtain a deeper impression of the entertainment experience. But I can also imagine the approach to be more challenging for museum design as you need to incorporate different media into one single space.

    For my design proposal, I think transmedia works very well because it really aligns with what we were considering: expanding the contextualization of one piece of art through different media such as architectural design, music, VR/AR, tactile and physical interaction, and so on. By telling a story across multiple platforms, transmedia storytelling will allow us to engage with their audience in different ways. It will also encourage audience participation and involvement, creating a more immersive and engaging experience. The primary driver behind transmedia storytelling is allowing us to explore the story and characters in greater depth, as we will have more space and opportunities to develop our narrative. This can result in a richer and more complex story that is able to resonate with a wider audience. By creating a cohesive and interconnected narrative across multiple platforms, our group can generate greater interest and awareness for our exhibition, leading to increased attention from the public.

    Question 1: Is the traditional museum unwelcoming to large portions of our society?

    There has been criticism that traditional museums can be unwelcoming to certain segments of society, particularly those who come from lower socio-economic backgrounds or who belong to marginalized communities. This is because traditional museums have historically been located in affluent areas, and may have collections or exhibitions that reflect the interests and perspectives of the wealthy or privileged. Additionally, traditional museums may not always be accessible to people with disabilities or those who speak languages other than English, which can further exclude certain groups from experiencing and enjoying museum exhibits. I think it has to deal a lot with the existing social construct throughout centuries as people from lower socio-economic backgrounds are also generally less interested in museums compared to the wealthy, making this issue more concerning. Although many museums have been working to address these issues in recent years by offering free or reduced admission, creating more inclusive and diverse exhibits, and providing accessibility accommodations such as sign language interpretation or audio descriptions, I still think that even the diverse exhibitions showcasing the lower social-economic world tend to target the wealthy. Those who suffered from the situation might not be willing to visit nor agree with the exhibition.

    Question 4: How can we amplify the voices of the unrecognized? One way to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities is to collaborate with them in the development of exhibitions and programming. This can help to ensure that their perspectives and experiences are accurately represented and presented in the museum. A similar approach can be hiring and promoting staff from diverse backgrounds. It can help to ensure that the museum is more inclusive and sensitive to the needs of underrepresented communities. Additionally, having diverse leadership can help to guide the museum’s priorities and decision-making processes towards greater equity and representation. To make this come true, one feasible plan is to engage in community outreach efforts to build relationships with underrepresented communities and encourage their participation in museum activities. This can involve partnerships with community organizations, targeted marketing campaigns, and outreach events. Question 7: What if your museum is not ready to engage in the storytelling of the future?

    I think this is always a tricky question as return is always highly associated with risk. But just like the financial world, we can conduct measurement and analysis to maximize our return with the minimum risk. For example, the museum can conduct an assessment of its current capabilities and resources to determine where it stands in terms of storytelling and digital engagement. This assessment can identify areas for improvement and help the museum to set realistic goals for the future. Or, the museum can seek partnerships and collaborations with other museums, cultural institutions, or technology companies to leverage expertise and resources. This will ensure the influence of the project of storytelling. Lastly, the museum can always start with small, manageable projects to build momentum and gain experience in storytelling and digital engagement. This can help to build confidence and pave the way for larger initiatives in the future.

  • Storytelling and Museums

    In the Amy Hollande piece, particularly the third question on how the underserved community can be reached, I really resonated with this notion of creating “a network of museum fragments, located in everyday places like libraries and hospitals, turning common spaces to common good.” It is just at the core of our group project, the pop-up museum. They should be transferable and thus reach a larger audience, and the pop-up museum can be the epitome of that by strategizing to reach the underserved community. The first question centered on the common theme of our first classes, which largely focused on making museums more welcoming. But, as we’ve seen, this isn’t an easy task, and even if done correctly, it won’t guarantee engagement from the target audience, as the author has stated: “However, they all acknowledged that just because we open a door, it doesn’t mean that new and diverse communities will feel welcome.” The second question on how to reach the underserved community did not provide me with enough actionable data. It wasn’t until I reached the third question that I felt the question was posed in a way that allowed the reader to carefully reflect on the ways in which underserved communities can be served and reached.

    In the Soraia Ferreira piece, I think Henry Jenkins’s book Convergence of Culture and its definition “integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.” is similar to our group project. The utilization of a select few works of art and the implementation of microstories along with VR is what creates a unified and coordinated experience where the VR complements the elements of the artwork and immerses the participant.

    In the Ellen Lupton piece, I very much entertained the thought of the silence, the break, and the anticipation moments, just like in the rollercoaster experience. I’ve facilitated at a museum, and when I ask a question and don’t get prompt answers, I assure the participants that it’s okay if they don’t feel like sharing, but what’s important about this story is that I was avoiding the silence, which can and should be inherent in the design of museum experiences in many cases. I believe that the engagement in the pop-up museum should allow for moments of silence as well as moments of anticipation as part of the engagement. The experience shouldn’t always be active or indulging; rather, it should provide a space for the participants to enter a deeper state.

  • Storytelling and Museums Lamees

    Storytelling and Museums

    Reflections on the Future of Museum Storytelling

    Question 1: Is the traditional museum unwelcoming to large portions of our society? One quotation from the text that stood out to me was “just because we open a door, it doesn’t mean that new and diverse communities will feel welcome”. This is important to acknowledge because it signifies that more action must be taken to create a welcoming environment and disentangle museums from their traditional or historical contexts, often rooted in class and privilege. While the door may be “open” to all members of society, many may feel unwelcome due to reasons such as being from socioeconomic, academic, or cultural backgrounds that are underrepresented in museum communities. It makes us wonder what ways we can foster museum experiences that are fruitful and enjoyable to all members of society.

    Question 3: How can we best reach underserved communities? I was really intrigued by the idea of MICRO Museums. While it is easy to think about how to encourage people to come to the museum, we often overlook ways in which we can bring aspects of a museum to the people. I previously interned for Design Museum Everywhere, a nomadic museum based on Boston that focuses on bringing exhibits, programming, and activities to communities (mainly around Boston). This brings into question whether a museum necessarily has to be tethered to one physical location. What are the benefits of breaking up a museum into smaller, more portable spaces? How does this allow for more engagement and participation from all kinds of people and communities?

    Question 5: How can we design community-first exhibits? My takeaway from this question was that the community needs to be included in all stages and aspects of creating an exhibit, from beginning to end. I am curious about the extent to which existing museums collaborate with communities when creating exhibitions. I think this would aid in lessening the sense of hierarchy that exists between curators/directors and visitors. Maybe co-designing exhibits can be a possible solution to Question 1, creating a more welcoming space to all members of society if they feel more represented within museum processes.

    Can You Apply Transmedia Storytelling to Museums? There were many aspects of this reading that I think can be applied to our project. One of the main aspects that I think is relevant to my group’s project is the concept of choice. The audience should have a choice regarding the content they want to consume, as well as the level of participation they want to have with that content. This allows us to cater towards different kinds of visitors: those who prefer a more passive experience, as well as those who are seeking a deeper engagement with museum exhibits. Our project focuses on the notion of prompt and response as a means to facilitate interactions and connections between visitors while simultaneously encouraging them to build a deeper understanding of the exhibits. We have started to consider ways in which we can give them choices regarding the level of engagement they would like to have, such as by having different devices include different activities. However, another option is to include multiple prompts on one device, allowing even more freedom for the visitor. Like the reading suggests, our prompt and response devices must also have a sense of coherency and consistency across the platforms to create a sense of ‘brand visibility’.

  • reading 12 tklouie

    Question 6: How can a small museum with limited staff and budget implement such grand efforts?

    This question drew me in because it also covers the core of accessibility, essentially what are the bare minimum resources you need to make a museum experience connect with the community. Digital media has been crowned in such a manner for all types of innovation- software, digital creation, all these things that don’t require physical resources to make. I believe that this kind of focus on low resource connections doesn’t have to always be digital, however, and people bond much more in a physical space than via social media accounts. One of the museum’s key assets is the space that it provides and the people who work there, and think more about ways to capitalize on that, maybe with lates or community events that don’t need all the flashy themes and showcasing that take up a lot of resources, time, and planning. Why is opening up a discussion that expensive?

    Question 3: How can we best reach underserved communities?

    The MICRO Museums concept is very exciting and very intriguing because it falls very similarly to our project theme. This is a much more affordable way to bring museums into spaces that otherwise won’t have any, much like our pop up, but scaled significantly down. I would be interested in seeing how we could combine and integrate these ideas to maybe make a pop up museum, more like a community pop up book store/shelf where people can interact with these objects.

    Question 5: How can we design community first exhibits?

    With my experience in D-lab for global development here at MIT, I believe the answer to this question follows a very core idea: It is collaboration, where you are working with the community and not for the community. It is so often in research and I believe some of the museum world that the curators can speak for the topic, rather than having a community guided and lead project. Supporting, and rather than speaking, for the community is very rewarding

    Since we encounter transmedia storytelling in very compelling ways today, it is really exciting to put a name to it! I think this is a core concept in our project because we are hoping to build out something that is across a variety of media and ways of interaction, where different interactions and presentations will tell an aspect of the art piece. Rather than generating loyalty, it can give the viewer or visitor a lesson to learn and grow from.

  • Assignment 12 - Storytelling and Museums

    Reflections on the Future of Museum Storytelling

    Question 2: How can we build trust with underserved commuities?

    I am particularly interested in this question since I find it to be a very important question that all museums, especially the big institutions need to solve. As museums change to be more inclusive and welcoming in the modern times, it is crucial to find a way to reach out to those who haven’t been able to participate in the conversation about museums and let them know that they can participate. The project at Amsterdam Museum shows how difficult this problem can be given how long it took them, but it is a step in the right direction to include opinions and stories from underserved communities when designing exhibits. Both sides learn from the experience, and the communities can see what efforts the museum is willing to put in for their stories.

    Question 3: How can we best reach underserved communities?

    I really liked the idea behind the MICRO Museums since it attacks the problem from the fundamental issue of the physical space a museum takes place. While traditional museums can seem intimidating to some communities or groups, the MICRO Museums give them a chance to participate even if they are not specifically looking for the experience. Since the fragments are small and each focuses on one topic, it is easy for people to walk up and engage while performing their original tasks at the local spaces.

    Question 6: How can a small museum, with a limited staff and budget, implement such grand efforts?

    With the outreach potential of the Internet and various social media platforms, smaller museums now have opportunities to spread their influence much wider than what they can do locally. Interesting projects like the one at the Philbrook Museum of Art can increase the museums’ online visibility and allow them to communicate their message better to a wider range of audiences.

    Can You Apply Transmedia Storytelling to Museums?

    In my experiences, a lot of museums are starting to take advantage of transmedia storytelling methods from audio guides to mobile apps and online activities. I think our project can definitely benefit from some form of transmedia storytelling since the purpose is to bring together the visitors in a different and interesting way as oppose to traditional talking and conversations. One way to achieve that is to create a way for people to interact over different mediums and across time, which transmedia storytelling can help us to solve the problem in interesting and immersive ways.

  • Assignment 12 Reading - Ani

    Reflections on the Future of Museum Storytelling

    Question 1. Is the traditional museum unwelcoming to large portions of our society?

    The article correctly mentions that most museums are traditionally located in wealthier communities, and typically present their collections from a privileged point of view. While there are many great ways to combat this issue such as opening up museums in underserved areas, one solution I think could be implemented more immediately is to ensure that the people who have a voice in the museum (i.e. curators, designers, etc.) come from a diverse set of background to help ensure that the museum as a space can be more welcoming to people outside of wealthy communities.

    Question 4: How can we amplify the voices of the unrecognized?

    I found this question somewhat polarizing because on the one hand, I agree that many museums could benefit by doing a better job of recognizing the unheard voices in the stories they tell, particularly in places like history museums where there are almost always several different sides to the same story. I think in cases like The Tenement Museum bringing in unheard immigrant voices to a large online audience is great because that is extending the museum’s core mission. But I think in some cases amplifying the voices of the unrecognized can be a bit less relevant, one example that comes to mind could be a science museum. While there are definitely many examples of unrecognized voices in the history of science if a museum’s goal was to simply demonstrate scientific principles in an interesting manner to its audience these voices may not be as relevant to that museum’s mission.

    Question 7: What if your Museum is not ready to engage in the storytelling of the future?

    This question brings up the good point that most museums aren’t ready to change the way they do business precisely because they are afraid to change a model they have that is already working. As with most businesses, the only thing that can really force wide-sweeping changes across the industry are strong market forces, so if enough museums are able to implement these new forms of engagement and they become popular enough other museums will be forced to follow to retain their audience. Thus it’s ultimately the will of museum-goers and the dollars that they spend which can enact these changes across the industry, but it is important that some museums make this leap in order for consumers to be able to express their desire for this new type of content.

    Can You Apply Transmedia Storytelling to Museums?

    Telling transmedia stories can be an effective way to engage audiences and create a more immersive storytelling experience. By dispersing elements of fiction across multiple platforms, creators can reach a wider audience, offer a variety of engagement levels, and deepen the story world. However, it’s essential to ensure coherency and consistency among the different platforms, while staying true to the style of each adaptation medium. Overall, telling transmedia stories requires careful planning and execution, but it can lead to significant rewards in terms of audience engagement and loyalty.

    Transmedia storytelling relates to our final project in the sense that data we collect in a museum can be used to create a more immersive and personalized museum experience. By dispersing the statistics we capture across multiple platforms, such as interactive exhibits, social media campaigns, or mobile apps, the museum can engage visitors in new and innovative ways. For example, the data collected from the camera tracking system could be used to generate personalized recommendations for visitors, showcasing exhibits and artifacts that align with their interests.

  • Reflections on the Future of Museum Storytelling & Transmedia Storytelling

    Reflections on the Future of Museum Storytelling Question 3: How can we best reach underserved communities? This question captures a key step to welcoming underserved communities into museums, and it makes me wonder how museums measure their reach into various communities. I thought the two projects funded by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage were great examples of how stories of underserved communities can be highlighted, although I wish the author or the speakers had elaborated on who the audience of those projects were or how they were received. I can think of several different aspects of reaching underserved communities, and I wonder how museum professionals interpret this idea. Is there more of a focus on empowering specific communities through partnering with them, inviting people of underserved communities into museums, or educating people who are not in underserved communities on these communities’ stories? Or something else?

    Question 5: How can we design community first exhibits? The community first exhibit at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History reminded me of Nina Simon’s participatory museum, and I wonder if it’s the same museum. I find it interesting that the goal of the museum is to tackle a community issue, which differentiates it from traditional museums, which may be established to showcase objects or educate the general public that visits. While a community first exhibit may be much harder to plan logistically with people outside of the museum being involved, that tradeoff seems to have a lot of value as I’m sure active participation in planning leaves a much more significant impact on those communities.

    Question 6: How can a small museum, with a limited staff and budget, implement such grand efforts? Like the author points out, social media seems to be a great way for smaller museums to test out or implement initiatives. While staff numbers may be limited and renting out space or organizing physical initiatives all involve a larger budget, the space created through social media and an internet presence is much more low cost to operate in. If executed effectively, an online initiative could attract even more visitors, and if an online initiative turns out to be unsuccessful, the cost to the museum is also much lower.

    Transmedia Storytelling I think the inFORM lends itself to several different platforms through which its story can be told. The main thread of the story is the machine itself and user interaction with it. Another way of expanding the narrative is to include video or audio representation of the ideas behind the technology from the Tangible Media Group. A big part of transmedia storytelling can be how museum visitors construct or continue the narrative, so in addition to encouraging visitors to interact with the exhibit, pictures or videos of their experiences that they can share online can also be part of transmedia storytelling.

  • On Storytelling | Some Elements for Discussion - RS, JL

    For the discussion this Monday (4/3) on these readings of storytelling, here are some thoughts / questions / provocative ideas / hopefully generative insights that may guide us:

    On Hollander’s (2019) questions for the future of museum storytelling:

    • What are some examples of museums and institutions that have meaningfully and successfully designed, implemented, and assessed inclusion / community-first initiatives? What can we learn from them?
    • Highlighting the question of “how to amplify voices of the unrecognized”: Is this the purpose of museums? A recurring theme of the class has been: what is the purpose of the museum? Is designing community-first exhibits the goals for all museums? Some? What contexts might call for different approaches / reasons for approaches?
    • Highlighting the question of “is the museum unwelcoming to large portions of our society”: How might museums address the question of trying to be accommodating to all? If this is the goal, what are some ways museums CAN address all; if this is not the goal, please explain the alternative goals / approaches.

    On Ferreira’s (2020) ideas on transmedia storytelling in museums:

    • How can museums utilize transmedia storytelling in their work (what contexts)? What are some affordances and limitations of doing so?
    • How might museums navigate accessibility and representation in their use of transmedia storytelling?
    • What examples of transmedia storytelling in/from museums can be found? What can be learned from non-museum uses of transmedia storytelling? How can those learnings translate to guiding implementation in museum settings?

    On Lupton’s (2017) writing on design as storytelling:

    • In thinking about the chronosystem – the outermost level in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model theory (micro-, meso-, exo-, macro- system are the first four, in order – an artifact in a museum is impacted in a way related to the time in which a visitor is experiencing it, and the visitor is similarly impacted in a way related to the time in their lives which they’re experiencing it; is there a way then to capture the dynamic and ever-changing story of an artifact and its experiencer?
    • How are the museumgoer’s experience and the hero’s journey related? How are artifacts in a museum and the hero’s journey related? What are ways that this could be utilized in creating a more compelling museum experience?
    • Reflect on exhibit layouts that you may have seen recently and/or that have had an impact on you. How did the layout contribute to your experience, and in what ways?
  • The Future of Museum Storytelling and Transmedia Storytelling

    Reflections on the Future of Museum Storytelling

    How can we amplify the voices of the unrecognized?

    David Eng at the Tenement Museum has a really unique approach to this problem. The mission of this museum is so linked to the physical space of the museum, but creating such an intentional digital space was able to effectively expand the impact of the museum. It’s interesting that they chose to expand their audience in the Your Story, Our Story project from those interested in stories of New York City immigrants to those of the entire country, and I’m interested in knowing more about the reasoning behind this choice.

    How can we design community first exhibits?

    I’m curious to learn more about the logistics of designing an exhibit with over 800 collaborators. The exhibit definitely had a positive impact on the museum and community, and I’m wondering how such a large scale project was coordinated and what it means to have been one of 800 collaborators on such a project.

    How can a small museum, with a limited staff and budget, implement such grand efforts?

    Small museums may be even better suited to telling stories. They are often already more community oriented than larger institutions and storytelling is an accessible and effective way to engage with local communities. I’m wondering if the “Me Time Mondays” project by the Philbrook Museum of Art is run by a museum staff or a member of the local community - maybe the project could be most effective if both worked together.

    Transmedia Storytelling

    The article emphasizes that museums don’t need to create new stories, but tell existing ones, and tell them in an engaging way. Such engagement is best created through transmedia storytelling in which mini components of the larger story are told through different mediums. In terms of designing an exhibit to present inFORM, multiple means of communication would definitely be effective in telling the larger story of how inFORM was created, how it is used, and its significance. A large portion of the story we are telling about inFORm will be understood through experiencing it - going through the motions of interacting with the machine, interacting with others, and watching the machine itself. However, text and video explanations and interactions will be implemented to augment the experience of learning about inFORM, how it works, and its impact.

  • Transmedia Storytelling

    Transmedia Storytelling

    Transmedia storytelling can be an incredibly effective way to engage visitors in our final project of designing pop-up museums. One of our ideas of separating a large painting of a giant into small portions and making those individual exhibition rooms needs the support of a coherent storytelling. For example, for the painting by the Japanese artist, the goal is for the viewers to have this ultimate realization that they have been traveling through only small parts of the painting, being exposed to different body parts of the giant. Therefore, it is important that through framed words on the walls, AR soundscape, and recreation of the sceneries, we can let viewers have a notion of the complete storyline and take note of what part they are going through at the moment. It is similar to the concept mentioned by the author about Hollywood’s approach of transmedia storytelling, which is constructing a world for the viewers instead of simply telling them separate stories.

    First, since we are trying to create the sceneries in the painting into a small modelled world, it is important to have coherent room narratives. In the example of the Japanese artist’s painting of a giant, each separate exhibition room represents a distinct body part of the giant. By integrating elements like framed words on the walls, AR soundscapes, and recreated sceneries, visitors will be able to piece together the complete story as they progress through each room, and eventually reach the realization that they are seeing the whole body part by part. A coherent storytelling approach can help enhance the visitor experience by using lighting, scents, and tactile elements to recreate the atmosphere depicted in the painting. We need to focus on the coherency of our design, such as using the same architectural structure, color theme, and installation throughout the different small exhibition rooms.

    Also, we can use other aids to make the theme of the pop up museum stand out more to the viewers so that when they exit they have a very clear impression of the overall theme and can have more reflections back home. We can create digital platforms emphasizing the theme of the pop up museum. For instance, there can be videos of background stories, and we can even try to create short introduction videos like the one made by Coca Cola.

  • "Reflections on the Future of Museum Storytelling"

    “Reflections on the Future of Museum Storytelling”

    Question 1: Is the traditional museum unwelcoming to large portions of our society?

    I agree with the article’s point that traditional museums may indeed be unwelcoming to some segments of society due to factors such as their locations, privileged perspectives, and sometimes elitist atmospheres. It is crucial for museums to actively work on dismantling these barriers, welcoming a wider range of visitors, and ensuring that their exhibits and programs resonate with diverse audiences. This could involve rethinking the way stories are told by including narratives that are more recent and relevant to people’s daily lives, as well as involving the community in exhibit development, and creating accessible, inclusive environments.

    Another factor that may contribute to some traditional museums being unwelcoming is the lack of representation in staff, leadership, and decision-making roles. A more diverse workforce within the museum sector can lead to more inclusive perspectives and help break down barriers for visitors. Additionally, providing training to staff on cultural sensitivity and accessibility can contribute to a more welcoming environment for all visitors.

    Question 2: How to better reach underserved communities?

    The idea of a MICRO museum, which is portable and can take place in common spaces such as libraries, is similar to the concept of developing pop-up museums. While it may not be feasible to bring large existing museums to locations of underserved communities, it is possible to create small, movable exhibitions featuring select portions from the museums.

    Additionally, to mitigate financial barriers faced by underserved communities, museums can offer free or discounted admission, transportation assistance, multilingual resources, and special services for people with disabilities. In this way, museums can become more accessible and convenient for minority groups.

    Question 3: How can a small museum, with limited staff and budget, implement such grand efforts?

    Small museums with limited staff and budget can still have a significant impact on their communities by focusing on targeted, strategic efforts. They can start by identifying their unique strengths and resources and leverage them to create meaningful experiences for their visitors.

    Another approach for small museums, including pop-up museums, is to concentrate on niche topics, local history, or a more refined collection of works, allowing them to become specialized centers of knowledge and expertise in their communities. With a deeper focus on a few selected pieces, small museums can provide visitors with a more immersive experience. By building a reputation as a trusted source of information and unique experiences, small museums can attract visitors and engage with their communities more effectively.

    Furthermore, utilizing social media and digital platforms can help small museums reach wider audiences and share their stories without incurring significant costs. By creating engaging online content, hosting virtual exhibits, or offering online educational resources, they can expand their reach and impact even with limited budgets. The use of technologies like AR and VR can also help small museums create additional experiences, such as soundscapes, when they do not have sufficient funds to support large collections of luxurious artifacts.

  • raw histories reading Livia

    I thought it was interesting how photography, as a form of art, is a medium that definitely should be considered and analyzed in a more holistic perspective. It’s more easy to form photo albums with similar themes or a collection of what the photographer wanted, and in a sort of “mass production” sort of style. This is different from other art forms- music albums only come out with a few songs each, or paintings / other works typically stand for themselves or may come as a small part of a collection. But photographs can easily be produced on a scale of hundreds and thousands over a small period of time. In consideration of this, there is much to look at and think about as a museum curator- which photos are important? All of them? Some? Why choose specific ones over the entire thing? What was the photographer trying to express in their work, and what specifically do we want to focus on? Curation seems to be much harder as there is a necessity for selection when there is, essentially, more “data”.

  • Raw Histories Reading Comments

    This reading brought new perspectives that I don’t think we’ve encountered so far in previous ones. In particular, Edwards’s emphasis on excavating the histories that surround photographs beyond the actual content of the works was very interesting. The point that “Things have cumulative histories that draw on their significances from intersecting elements in their histories” made me consider how photographs are unique compared to paintings or other forms of art that are more difficult to reproduce and take longer time to create. Photography is more easily replicable, like creating copies of the same photo from its negative, and especially nowadays, the word ‘photo’ may take on more of a digital connotation than a physical connotation. This speaks to how quickly a photo can spread and how tangled its intersections with different people’s histories can be. These factors also shape how different the distribution of photography is from a painting, for example, including aspects like ownership and the production, exchange, and consumption of photos.

  • Raw Histories Comments

    Edwards describes photographs as “visual incisions through time and space” - exact recreations of a very minute slice of the world made still. At the same time, Edwards points out that images, in contrast to film, contain a “leveling equivalence of information” which prevents images from taking on a single meaning. Edwards believes images represent a single instant of the photographer’s lived experience that both has the capacity to tell a personal story, but also evade a single literal interpretation. After reading the excerpt, I realized that photography is exactly the limiting case of show-don’t-tell storytelling.

    Whenever I see a particularly moving picture I get to put myself in the shoes of the photographer, and try to understand how they feel about it. But at the same time, photographs leave room for viewers to interpret the situation as if the viewer was the photographer themself. Sometimes these photos can accumulate meaning and grow into a “grand narrative”, and other times they are just slices taken out of everyday life.

  • Data Visualization

    Max Frischknecht Presentation Data visualization

    As written in the instructions, I went through the tutorial in the link to Max’s website and working with PIA Metadata API. Results below: Screenshot 2023-03-15 at 09.53.15.png I also took a look at the visualization software, and made some changes to use different data fields to impart some meaning on color as well as location: Screenshot 2023-03-15 at 09.52.10.png

  • aouyang-assignment11

  • Commentary: Elizabeth Edwards - Raw Histories

    “Photographs here are as much ‘to think with as they are empirical, evidential inscriptions.” When I read this sentence, I was reminded of how photographs can construct and reconstruct realities, engage in sociopolitical discourse, and serve as evidence to refute or confirm what history books tell. However, I was perplexed by the fact that they are also fluid in the sense that they may contain multiple layers that are open to interpretation and are influenced by one’s ontological dimensions, experiences, cultures, and backgrounds. It’s as the author denotes:  “I shall argue instead that within the archive and the museum there is a dense multidimensional fluidity of the discursive practices of photographs as linking objects between past and present, between visible and invisible and active in cross-cultural negotiation.” This then begs the question: How much evidence is sufficient? What level of evidence do photographs hold, and how malleable can that be? Photographs certainly have their powers, but I think they also pose an ethical dilemma, and that the ethical responsibility is contingent on the curator. What history did they choose to reveal, and what history did they try to conceal?

  • raw-histories-tklouie

    Raw Histories Elizabeth Edwards Commentary

    This reading focuses on the many contextualizations that come from photography beyond the simple subject itself: from the historical/colonial eye, the archival practice of categorizing the photo, future meanings, material, and contextual creation. I found this to be a very comprehensive summary of many of the meanings of photographs I have considered as a photographer myself and as someone who has taken to building photo archives.

    A few of the points I found most interesting points include: A difference between public and private photos. Private photos can carry “context with the life they are extracted” and public photos become “removed from such context” and can “generate symbol or metaphor” While I don’t nessicarly agree with the public/private terminology, I believe this is a refined distinction for the purpose of photo taking, and how generally private or personal photos are for one’s own meaning, while once it is shared, the meaning must be contextualized for the viewer to have the same experience. The decision whether to contextualize the photograph or not also leads to different readings.

    Photographs will accumulate meaning, and remain Socially and Historically Active objects While the subject of the photo and the image itself is stationary, the effect of photography and the fact that the medium can “constantly pick up new meanings” despite the image being frozen in time. This is the power of photography and reproduction into the current stage. I love the point where an archive of photography is not frozen in time, and can be viewed in many ways in many perspectives.

    Photographs construct reality in a performance As they bring historical and non-present snapshots into the current one, the performance of a photo is the current engagement from the viewer and from the presenter. This is beyond the photographer’s realm.

    In all, the reading shows the impact of photography and how long lasting these objects can be, despite the singularity of their snapshot in time.

  • Photographs and Their Social Stories - JL

    The Edwards (2001) reading highlights some really interesting ideas: on the importance of context, on the unique individuality and idiosyncrasy of everything, on the different dimensions behind/in front of each picture. Some quotes I want to highlight are:

    • “The close-up view… allows us to grasp what eludes the broader more comprehensive viewing” – there’s value in looking closer, looking finer grained, looking into that aforementioned uniqueness, individuality, idiosyncrasy

    • “Meanings come in and out of focus, double back on themselves, adhere silently” – the museum as an archive and as a space that exists within context inherently creates dynamic meaning from pictures

    • “There-then becomes here-now” – the idea of photos as denying history by bringing the past to the present and future while simultaneously inevitably carrying history and context within them

    And I think the question of “what do we do with this information” aligns with a final quote: “what do pictures really want?” What are the performances and contexts that went into setting up the photo, creating the photo, displaying it, perceiving it; and with all of that, what is the role of the museum as archive of photos? A piece of the story and perforamnce of a photo? Simply a holding place for others to engage and interact (is this possible)?

  • Elizabeth Edwards Reading - Raw Histories

    One of my main takeaways from this reading was the treatment of an archive / photographs as active vs inactive entities. Photographs can be considered “active” artifacts as they are actively telling us about past moments in the present day. In this sense, photographs are ‘of’ the past, but also of the present that the past is transported to. They have a performative quality, and are acting out their histories. It was interesting to consider this ‘performative’ nature of photographs, which made me further think about how this concept can be applied to other art forms as well as cultural objects and artifacts. This made me wonder about museums (in the traditional sense) as a space that gives life to these performative objects and almost acts as a stage with an overarching sense of “theatricality”. This also brings into question the “authoritative and monolithic power” of the archive or museum and whether a photograph has any agency on its own. Edwards then also considers how photographs only exist to “adopt the ideological perspective of the institutions that employ it”. This makes me wonder about how the meaning of photographs is not only dependent on its historical context, but also the contemporary context through which it is being perceived. Institutions have the power to craft interpretations and experiences through display and curation choices, as we have learnt through our discussions with curators from various museums.

    Another theme that fascinated me was the idea of fragmentation and dislocation, and how photographs are essentially slivers of space and time. Edwards suggests that a photograph “preserves a moment of time and prevents it being effaced by the suppression of future moments” (8). However, I feel that while the object qualities and subject matter of a photograph may indeed be a fragment of a time and place, they are “actively” being viewed from newer perspectives and lenses, giving them the ability to exist and create meaning beyond just one moment in time. They are dynamic and amorphous as opposed to static and frozen.

  • Elizabeth Edwards reading comment

    Elizabeth Edwards emphasizes several aspects of interpreting photography that I find noticeable and particularly interesting. One thing she argues is that photographs have the power to be about regain, empowerment, renewal, and contestation, rather than simply nostalgia and pastness. Instead of simply serving as a tool of reflecting and recording the past, it is important that photographs should have implications on the future as well. By capturing images that depict their struggles, their victories, and their everyday lives, individuals and communities can challenge stereotypes and reshape the way they are perceived by others. Purely confining the significance of photographs to the past is thus in some way an underestimation of its power to shape the future.

    She also stresses that there are certain levels of subjectivity involved in the photographic effects, and to fully understand the meanings of the photographs require us to consider specific requirements of evidence within a given context. This reminds me of the controversy surrounding the 2017 Women’s March due to a photography taken by Getty images showing a crowd of people gathering on the National Mall. The image was widely shared on social media and different news outlets. However, it was argued that there was some subjectivity introduced into the image and was intentionally manipulated to make the crowd appear larger than it actually was. Since photographs, as mentioned above, have the power to influence the future, it is important to look at them through a critical perspective, not being fooled by the manipulation elements of the photographs.

  • Comments on Raw Histories

    I really enjoyed this piece and how it addressed the complexities of studying photographs. An interesting point was how Edwards discussed the concept of studying photos outside of their original contexts: “In many ways a photograph denies history. A fragment of space and time, it defies diachronic connections, being dislocated from the flow of life from which it was extracted” (Edwards 8). Using ‘dislocation’ to describe photographs losing their context is a really powerful idea, as when a photo is removed from where it was taken and viewed as a historical object rather than a memory, it truly is dislocated.

    Edwards further believes photos “have a rawness, uncontainability, resistance and ultimately unknowability” (22). Photographs as historical objects are interesting because photos aren’t capable of telling a full story, let alone a full story of even one moment. There are gaps even within photo collections - chronological gaps between the photos taken but also contextual gaps. Edwards points that one isn’t capable of fully analyzing a photograph through what it shows, only what it doesn’t show. This is a really interesting point - especially from a historical perspective. There is a more complete answer when the question being asked is what is left out of frame and why rather than asking what is being captured within the bounds of the photo.

  • photo-archive-tklouie

    I really enjoyed the visual presentation of the Ernst Brunner photo collection, I found the website very easy to navigate and it highlighted the photos by using white background and minimalist framing. One notable thing is the idea that the photo signature (something like SGV_12N_00161) is always included, but the title is bolded under the photograph- although the titles are not necessarily unique. It also follows the design philosophy that was presented in the reading: to have collections first and details (as well as an HD image) on demand.

    The archive shows initially no hierarchy of the images, which is one big difference I find between a curated show (or even a portfolio) and an archive. It gives each photo equal importance, and I also really enjoyed reading the collection descriptions that the user can scroll down to to change collections. I’m particularly drawn to the gorgeous photos from the Leuenberger family collection, with color slides from the journalist Ursula Rellstab and the photographer Max Buchmann.

  • reading6-tklouie

    The Experience Economy

    This reading is an interesting expansion on the idea of what it means to encourage people to have active engagement in a space: on the museum visitor level, and also beyond that. Many of us have heard of the new “instagram” focused, “selfie museums” (the Museum of Ice Cream, the Museum of Color) that have become another selling point where they provide visitors a thematic place to play and take pictures. I have been through several phases of appreciating these pop ups and looking critically at their comparatively shallow purpose, but to their credit, they perfectly follow Pine and Gilmore’s principles of creating an experience. And perhaps there is a possibility to learn about engaging younger audiences from them. A mild digression, but it is also interesting to me, looking back on it, why they decided to market themselves as Museums.

    First Time and Repeat Visitors

    The distinction on how museums appeal to first time or repeat visitors is an interesting aspect of their design, and I feel is a factor for all experience-centered attractions. I found the study relatively matching for what seems to be common sense, and a bit limited in scope to a single museum. I am also curious about what percentage of visitors are there for their first time, and how many are there for repeats (essentially who is the audience most of the time within the museum). This reminds me of the Disneyland distinction also, in dealing with too many guests and too few resources (time), how do they build systems and which guests do they prioritize (From Defunctland’s Video on Disney’s Fast Pass: A Complicated History). The free online fast pass system was initially designed to prioritize first time guests who would be paying a lot more to visit parks- but it was complicated, and so the people who used it and were able to benefit from it the most, were actually repeat visitors. This meant significantly longer waiting times for the first timers, and in general is correlated to a lower quality of experience. What in museums, might this correlate to, and what resources or extra knowledge does a first time visitor miss out on? Or perhaps this is actually better since it gives repeat visitors something new to explore?

  • Thoughts on The Experience Economy and First Time and Repeat Visitors

    The Experience Economy I like how one aspect of creating an environment is simply considering what would encourage guests to “just want to be there”. As curators put so much work into the exhibits themselves, guest experience within those exhibits can sometimes be seen as an afterthought when it should be at the forefront of the design, as guest experience is the main aspect of the visit for the guests themselves. Guests are unable to properly engage with and learn from exhibits if the museum is too crowded, at an uncomfortable temperature, doesn’t have enough seating, or is inaccessible in other ways.

    First Time and Repeat Visitors Gaining repeat visitors is essential to any community-based museum. The article proposed changing exhibits more often as well as offering more community and museum events to turn locals into repeat visitors. The article also recommended encouraging group visits -I’m wondering how this can be implemented. What does it mean to encourage a group visit? How can museums cater and advertise to groups rather than individuals?

  • reading6-crinard

    Experience Economy

    • Re performance everywhere: in general, these tend to be limited to very touristy areas, and aren’t that prevalent in more affluent or working neighborhoods. This article attempts to conflate some cheap marketing tricks with a societal proliferation.
    • Absolutely agree about the tricks listed, but I’d hesitate to call them principles — I think a more prevalent them that has shown it’s worth with the advent of digital marketing and the massive expansion of content is personalization; simple cues like changing color of a site can make a massive difference in how likely they are to fill out a form or make a purchase, and it’s incredible how much relatively minor cues can change the odds in these types of setting. I think that the physical world has yet to catch on, where with the advent of wearables and digital + physical mesh it’s only a matter of time before there exist similar opportunities.

      First-time and repeat visitors

    • Interesting statistics, I would also be interested in reading about a more in-depth analysis of the activities/reasons that people head to a museum; there is suggestion in this summary article about “social bonding experience”, but little in terms of concrete ideas/activities (for example, I’ve anecdotally noted that people going on dates is common.
    • I’d also like to add that, from a strictly financial point of view, the identification of target audience ought to include how much the consumer is willing to spend, and how to elicit that. More thoughts on this in class.
  • Reading comments assignment 6

    “Each experience derives from the interation between the staged event and the individual’s prior state of mind and being.”

    The first reading talks a lot on creating that staged event- but I wonder, what about the factor of the individual’s prior state of mind/being? In the second reading, one of the points they discovered that a lot of people seem to remember the negative aspects of the museum experience, rather than the curators’ messages. I thought this was interesting because the museum experience is actually much more than just the exhibits- it’s the parking, walking in, the ticket line, the amount of people and their behavior inside of the museum, the process of leaving, etc. A lot of those can influence someone’s prior state of mind before ever even seeing the exhibits.

    It feels a little unfair if you spend all this time designing an experience but the experiencer wasn’t even ready for it in the first place due to external circumstances. Have museums taken this into account? What are existing solutions?

  • Reading 6

    After reading both articles, the experience that immediately came to my mind was Disney. With its high rate of returning visitors and extremely successful selling of experience, Disney checks off at least three of the four “realms of experience” that “The Experience Economy” describes–entertainment, escapist, and esthetic. I think it’s incredible how Disney forged itself into a theme yet still maintains a degree of personalization, even if it’s just through the sheer amount of products that they carry that caters more or less to something unique about every visitor.

    I wonder what the author would think about the role that social media plays in the experience economy because I would think that social media enables experience to transcend physical space and the five senses. Social media has significant influence over sentiments and memories of visitor experience: on one hand, it may influence expectations of people who have not yet visited, and on the other hand, even after someone has experienced something, scrolling through others’ reviews or posts may change their initial impression even if their experience was independent of what they saw online.

  • Reading 6: On Museum Experience

    As Pine and Gilmore stated, “Experiences are memorable events.” I learn the most about and engage best with objects at museums when I visit them by myself. My most memorable events are those in which I connected with the object or with family or friends over an object that sparked a great conversation. I can’t say I like one over the other because each visit has a different purpose.

    When I go to museums by myself, I am able to interact with the objects without having my opinions influenced by others. Also, the solitude in the museum is underappreciated. The experience of standing before an artifact can be both therapeutic and illuminating.

    The fact that expectation was not related to satisfaction in the Dorn and Polegato’s study is surprising. A lot of times, when an experience doesn’t live up to expectations, it can become monotonous. Yet, this is dependent on a variety of factors, including personality traits. Some people are able to extract the best out of every experience, and some just can’t help but notice what went wrong.

  • Reading 6 - Anugrah Chemparathy

    The experience economy

    This article reminds me very strongly of instagram museums (like the museum of ice cream) which seem pretty shallow and also kind of boring. With these kinds of “experience” museums, people get a nicely themed place with a good aesthetic for taking generic instagram pictures. I can understand why they’re cool to visit if you want to take cute pictures, but I’ve never been particularly active on social media, so I’ve only ever been able to see the experience museum as really dry. There’s something extremely superficial about the whole idea, which only feels amplified after reading the passage - when you’ve distilled the experience museum down to such a clinical science it feels more consumerist than cute.

    What makes a satisfying museum experience

    This paper kind of surprised me - in particular in how extreme the gender breakdown was for visitors (both first time and especially returning). I visited the SF MoMA recently with my friend, and remembered seeing a lot of couples, but not really picking up on such a large gender disparity.

    I wonder how much the results of this paper have changed in the 9 years since it was published. Taking into account the modern “experience” museums, I might naively (as a non social media user) have guessed that the prime demographic visiting museums would become skewed much younger.

  • Reading 6 - Amy Ni

    From all the principles and tips mentioned in the The Experience Economy, it is clear that any experience should be holistic and engaging. When applied to museums, this probably demands them to be much more careful about that exhibits they wish to show and how they wish to present them, for they are simply a part of what makes the visit an engaging experience. I particularly agree that museums in the modern age should include multidimentional design. The focus of most exhibits are viewing the objects and their descriptions, but including different senses or allowing someway for visitors to connect and participate with the exhibits can be very beneficial. One example that I found worth investigating is the MIT museum exhibit with the moving machines, specifically the wooden whale. The moving machinary is accompained by sound and even wind, activating more senses that made me felt closer to the exhibit. Even the small act of having to stand in front of them for them to activate also made the viewing experience more active.

    In First-Time and Repeat Visitors, It was interesting to see that from the visitor’s perspective, the museum experience is largely shaped by the environment around them instead of the actual artifacts. Even for people who have visited the museum already, this could affect whether they would want to have the same experience again despite having already seen the exhibits. It also mentioned that most museum visitors go in groups instead of alone, and I wonder if there is a way to highlight or enhance this social aspect of museums. Typically, other museum visitors tend to create annoyances especially when a museum is famous and crowded, then is there a way that exhibits can encourage interactions between strangers either through group activities/participations or other more subtle means.

  • Questions to Ask (Harvard Art Museum)

    Questions to ask:

    • In what ways has the Harvard Art Museums engaged with communities of origin to discuss the display and interpretation of cultural artifacts in its collections?

    • How does the museum ensure that its collections do not perpetuate power imbalances and colonial narratives?

    • How does the museum’s approach to restitution and repatriation align with the principles of the Reframe Initiative?

    • Could you give examples of art in the museum’s collection that have been identified as stolen or plundered? How has the museum addressed these issues?

    • How does the Reframe Initiative intersect with other decolonization efforts in museums and cultural institutions, both within Harvard and more broadly in the cultural heritage sector?

  • On Experiencing and Participation & Engagement – JL

    On the Pine and Gilmore (2012) reading, there was an emphasis on this idea of experiencing “through time” or recognizing an experience but in reflection or as a result of time. I wonder the impacts of people expecting experience vs.(?) not expecting experience vs.(?) recognizing experience as it’s happening vs.(?) recognizing experience after the fact. The question marks are because I’m not sure about the overlap that is present / possible. For example, in going to a themed food / drink experience, for example, you may know what you’re getting yourself into and you’re expecting that. In the realm of museums, how much are people expecting an experience, WHAT experience are they expecting? Talking about memorabilia is really resonant as well: I find there’s something extremely meaningful about being able to engage in that way, and the physicality and tangibility creates and solidifies memory as well.

    On the Dorn et al. (2014) reading, the general trend on statistically significant measures for repeat vs. first-time visitors were all about fun / excitement; the repeat visitors reported more fun and more excitement. Small sample size, quality of study, relevance of context aside (?, can’t really put it aside), does this provide actionable insight into how we can design?

    On the Schiele (2020) reading, I find the timing to be really relevant: how did the events of 2020 to today even further impact the ideas of public participation and public engagement? I appreciate the highlighting of individual knowledge and worth, even going so far (and insightfully so, I think) as to declare “knowledge of [all] people is merely local and situated”. I’ve been grappling with this question myself for this year: given that everyone is so individual and has so much to bring: how do you make decisions? In the context of a museum, and me coming from a pedagogical / educational lens, how do you account for those different backgrounds in knowledge coming in and those different expectations and those different approaches to learning? Will any kind of museum in its current state be replicating the deficit model, and also, is there not space for some features of a/the deficit model? As the roles of institutions as a whole change, and as the role of a museum changes, again it brings us back to the same question: what’s the purpose of a museum?

  • Museum Experiences and the USS Hornet

    I thought these two articles were very insightful as I haven’t thought of museums as experiences before. As the economy becomes more and more experience based, it would make sense that museums become more like amusement parks or other forms of entertainment. I think one of the best museum-as-an-experience examples I can think of is the USS Hornet aircraft carrier. This is an aircraft carrier based in Alameda, CA. They have lots of exhibits, such as different airplanes, retrieval vehicles for the Apollo 11 mission, and stories about people who lived on the ship. They also have attractions, such as a flight simulator and other rides. The best experience I had on this ship was doing an after-hours ghost tour. This was a late at night tour with a guide, and all of the lights were off on the ship. We explored around with flashlights, and it was a much more memorable way to experience viewing the ship. I think making museums have unique, memorable experiences is the most important factor to move museums into the future.

    In regards to the second article, I wasn’t particularly surprised by any of the results. However, it did draw my attention to the fact that it is very important for museums to become more appealing to repeat visitors. Despite how satisfied a visitor is with a museum, there is no reason for a visitor to go back in the short term. Given that a museum only changes very seldomly, there is very little reason to go back. This can be changed by what I talked about in the previous paragraph - shifting to a more experience-based system. Creating unique, memorable experiences could give people more of a reason to go back more frequently.

  • aouyang-assignment-6


    The Experience Economy

    While I agree that creating an experience with a theme is important and interesting, I think it is non-trivial to create the right thematic experience without straying into the realm of being kitsch. In my opinion, creating the right experience requires paying attention to a lot of details; for example, a fancy afternoon tea experience with $5 teacups and saucers shows a lack of sincerity in recreating the experience; MoMA design store with interesting designs that are lacking in manufacturing quality.

    Satisfying Museum Experience

    The biggest impression I got from the article was how many different articles they cited and stated whether the findings were consistent. In addition, claiming “statistical significance” with a sample size of N=100 is not sound, and the metrics they were looking at were quite limiting. This makes me think that one potential project idea in this area is to develop a set of centralized, standardized benchmarks to enable better analytics for museums, as well as data-sharing across different museums to enable comparative studies.

  • Reading around Experience

    In the reading “The Experience Economy”, I am particularly intrigued by the interpretation of experience in two dimensions: Participation and Connection. The article expands on the two dimensions by categorizing participation into passive and active, and categorizing connection into absorption and immersive. I think a successful experience should include options for both types of interaction, considering the differences among individual preferences. For example, an introvert might prefer to be a quiet observer while an extrovert might have a strong incentive to be a part of the show. By addressing the options of expected experiences to the visitors beforehand, the curators can better ensure the satisfaction of the visitors. At the beginning of the reading, the author used food and dining as an example of entertainment, which I found very interesting. There are many real life dining entertainment examples that can be used to support the author’s claim. Passive Participation Experience: At the Osteria Francescana restaurant in Modena, Italy, Chef Massimo Bottura creates a luxurious and relaxed atmosphere for his customers. The restaurant has a beautiful ambiance, with dim lighting, comfortable seating, and beautiful decor. The focus is on the food, but the overall dining experience is also a significant part of the meal. The Rainforest Cafe is a popular chain restaurant that creates a unique ambiance by simulating a tropical rainforest. The restaurant has animatronic animals, waterfalls, and lush vegetation, providing customers with an immersive experience. Active Participation Experience: At Genji, a sushi restaurant located in New York City, customers can participate in creating their meals. The restaurant offers a sushi-making class where customers can select ingredients and watch the chef prepare them. This type of dining experience creates a connection between the customer and the food they are eating, making the experience more meaningful. The Melting Pot is a fondue restaurant chain that offers an interactive dining experience. Customers can select their fondue pot and dip their food into the cheese or chocolate fondue. This type of dining experience encourages customers to engage with their surroundings and creates a memorable experience.

    In the reading “First-time and repeat visitors: What makes a satisfying museum experience”, I am curious whether the results from the group of repeat visitors can be misleading due to the selection bias. Those who choose to return to the museums already show that their first visit is satisfying and they are willing to recommend the museum to others, which can be seen through visiting as a group or family. Additionally, the reading suggests that there is huge potential for increasing the number of male repeat visitors since the majority of repeat visitors are female. I am curious whether gender plays a role in our interest in museums. If females are generally more interested in museums, wouldn’t it make more sense to first contribute more efforts to continue expanding the market of female visitors?

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  • Reading 6 - Anirudh Rahul

    First-Time And Repeat Visitors: What Makes A Satisfying Museum Experience?

    This reading goes into some of the inner workings behind understanding visitors’ satisfaction, the work that goes into developing museum-going as a competitive leisure experience, and ways that museums could approach measuring customer satisfaction. The reading proposed that a repeat visitor was often a sign of a satisfied customer and would expand on that further in the study they performed. The reading also emphasized the importance of museums doing their own surveys and research to better understand the needs of their visitors, since their survey was only of a small community history museum. I do think the overall message of the reading, regarding meticulously tracking metrics for customer engagement and satisfaction is critical though, with leisure activities constantly competing for our dollars there are thousands of hours put into researching customer trends from their data, and I think it’s essential for museums to use this kind of data to keep themselves relevant.

    The Experience Economy

    In the reading, the authors delve into the core components of experiences and what makes them valuable. I think this is relevant in the context of museums because museums essentially sell guests an experience, typically the experience of navigating through a museum and going to many different exhibits. The authors pose an important question for those who sell experiences, which is how do you enrich and improve them? I found the idea of theming experiences to be especially powerful, experiences often don’t exist in isolation instead they often build on each other often exhibit after exhibit in a museum, so ensuring a cohesive and coercive message and storying is being conveyed through the experience is crucial to creating a good product. Creating a powerful theme can immerse guests in a whole new sense of reality, and help bring guests into a much better space for learning and engaging than their usual mindset.

  • Experiencing the museum

    I believe that some of what is offered in Pine and Gilmore’s “Experience Economy” is especially complimentary to thinking about the use of technology in museum spaces. They offer that, to develop a theme for an experience, it’s important to “alter a guest’s sense of reality; simultaneously affect the experience of time, space, and matter; integrate space, time, and matter into a cohesive, realistic whole; create multiple places within a place; and fit the character of the enterprise” (p. 166-167). This seems to align with much of what we’ve discussed as best practices for creating engaging museum experiences, especially when considering the addition of digital technologies. Since much of what museums offer is already structured thematically, considering these five best practices from Pine and Gilmore will support the development of additional experiences.

    Building off the bigger-picture experience practices from Pine and Gilmore, Dorn et al’s piece asks us to consider what it is that visitors want from museums. Their findings offer much insight to experience design. Considering Dorn et al’s point that “museums may be able to attract repeat visitors by engaging group visits” (p. 18), I’m thinking about the potential impact of creating experiences that are multi-user oriented or at least something shareable, so that single visitors are able to engage meaningfully as well. If we know that museum visitors are more frequently visiting museums with others, how can we factor that into the experience, without excluding solo visitors? When I think of my own experiences visiting museums, the ones that had fun and engaging multi-user activities were more often than not science or children’s museums, but I assume that Dorn et al’s finding that people are more likely to visit a museum with others applies to a wide variety of museum types and spaces. So how can art or historical museum spaces also include interactive group activities?

    Though, while reading Schiele’s article, I couldn’t help but also think about transfer of knowledge - once we get people into a museum and interacting with the space, the artifact(s), and each other, how do we take it beyond the museum? How are we hoping to affect visitors in the long-term, beyond their initial visit(s)?

  • Assignment 6 (Lamees)

    I found the reading “First-Time and Repeat Visitors: What Makes a Satisfying Museum Experience” particularly intriguing. Specifically, it was interesting for me to read about the demographics of museum-goers. While I do think the demographics of every museum can vary drastically and the findings from this paper are not necessarily applicable to other museums, there are many similarities between the results from the paper and what I observe/experience working at the ICA. Working mainly in the Art Lab, I see how the people who are more likely to engage in participatory programs are those who come to the museum in groups. The paper suggests that both first-time and repeat visitors are less likely to come alone, which makes me wonder how museums can encourage more participation from the occasional lone visitor. Another finding from the paper that I have observed at work is the visitor distribution between women. While I do not see as drastic of a ratio (70% female 30% male) in terms of visitors like the findings of the paper, I do see a significantly higher level of women (of all ages) who choose to engage in participatory programs as opposed to men. I often wonder how much of this has to do with the entanglement of social norms and constructs and how certain activities (like doing arts and crafts) may be deemed more ‘feminine’. I do not think this is necessarily a museum issue, but rather a societal issue which can manifest itself in certain ways within the museum realm (such as through engagement in participatory programs). I notice the divide between men and women engaging in programming becomes more drastic as age increases. For instance, school-aged children all seem to equally enjoy activities irrespective of gender, whereas men in their 20s-40s are the most hesitant to participate (this is just purely based on observation as someone who works with up to hundreds of people in a day). I do believe that almost anyone can take something away from the planned activities, but stigmas and stereotypes may prevent certain demographics from doing so. I am curious about the ways in which museums can work to deconstruct these norms so that all visitors can have the most fruitful experience possible.

    “The Experience Economy” was also very fascinating to read, particularly in regards to the metaphor of a performance that is woven through the text. It is interesting to see how experiences consist of services that act as a stage, goods/objects as props, and “costumed” service people who engage the audience and “orchestrate” these experiences. This idea not only applies to museums, but to almost all services. In terms of museums, I wonder if this approach to thinking about the people behind museum experiences (curators, visitor assistants, etc) as “orchestrators” in “costumes” may be detrimental. Does this metaphor create a certain sense of distance or disconnect between museum professionals and visitors? Can thinking this way reinforce a sense of hierarchy? Additionally, I found the multi-sensory approach to crafting optimal museum experiences intriguing. A service on its own is just a service and may not be particularly memorable. What distinguishes an effective experience is the “layering of sensory phenomena” (168) which promotes engagement and memorability. The reading also delves deeper into how experiences lie on a spectrum between absorption and immersion. This is interesting to note because we often talk about “immersive” museum experiences, whereas the reading suggests that no type of experience is better or worse, but we should rather explore how aspects of each realm of experience can work to enhance what we are trying to create.

  • Reading Comment (Assignment Six)

    “The Experience Economy”

    Previously, when I visited museums and exhibitions, I was a passive recipient of the information around me, such as cues emphasizing the theme of the museum. However, after reading “The Experience Economy,” I was amazed to learn that these seemingly unintentional elements inside exhibitions are intentionally staged to enhance the visitor experience. For example, several years ago, I attended an exhibition about green witches that was both entertaining and immersive. Workers inside the exhibition wore various costumes that symbolized their understandings and perceptions of the images of green witches. Everything inside the exhibition was made in different shades of green, including environmental habitats consisting of green bushes and butterfly models. The exhibition had a vast collection of memorabilia, including green stickers and a card signifying visitors’ designated green witch names, recycling bags, paintings, and fragrances that were specifically designed to fit the theme. By perfectly utilizing these elements to shape a unified and cohesive storyline and incorporating different sensory experiences, such as visual and olfactory experiences, visitors could leave the exhibition with a magical impression of the entire experience.

    For a good exhibition, intentionally staged elements for a better visitor experience should appear natural to the visitors. However, these elements, although they help visitors better define their experience, are often motivated by the economic profits institutions could gain from them. It is thus essential to ensure that this cynical motive goes “undetected” by visitors to avoid disturbing their experience with such thoughts. I wonder what efforts exhibitions could make to mitigate this potentially negative impact.

    “First Time And Repeat Visitors: What makes a Satisfactory Museum Experience”

    One thing that stands out to me in the reading “First Time And Repeat Visitors: What makes a Satisfactory Museum Experience” is the increased distribution bias towards females and local residents among repeat visitors when compared to first-time visitors. If a museum’s repeat visitors are predominantly females and residents living within driving distances, it means that the programming and design of the museum is not effectively reaching all demographic groups. This not only affects the creation of a diverse and inclusive environment in the museum, but it also prohibits the visitors from facilitating communications with people with more varied backgrounds. Therefore, to address this bias, I believe that museums, after analyzing their audience data, can develop more targeted outreach and marketing strategies to specifically attract the typically underrepresented groups among museum repeat visitors. For instance, to better appeal to male visitors, museums can occasionally host special events and exhibitions featuring sports and technology, topics that match males visitors’ interest more. In order to better reach visitors from farther away physical locations, museums can develop collaborations with travel companies, creating more accommodations and special packages for tourists. They could also make better use of online resources and advertisement for people from outside the local area, either rendering them the same experience digitally or better motivate them to visit the museum in person.

    One concern I have regarding taking the aforementioned targeted approaches to address the situation is that I am worried about museums potentially losing the previously dominant groups, females and local residents. If they notice that a lot of the actions of the museums are specifically tailored to the taste and needs of males and tourists, they might feel like they are being disregarded and lack interest in the museums. Therefore, as the museums make efforts to make demographic groups among repeat visitors more balanced, they should also keep in mind the original strategies that made specific groups more inclined to revisit.

  • The Modern Digital Curator

    Enhanced Critical Curation

    I thought this was a very interesting passage, as it opened my eyes to the enormous task of being a modern curator. I also was very interested by the definition of a curator as someone who crafts a story out of a multitude of information. There is so much information available to us now, and it’s becoming ever more important to sift through this information to find what is important and what is not. Before the internet, people would only save things that they thought were valuable, or things that they collected. Now, storage is so cheap that everything is saved and can exist theoretically forever.

    As I mentioned in class, I am very interested in how enables everyone to become a modern curator. This also poses the question of who can be a curator, and what can be considered a museum. I believe, as I mentioned earlier, that the task of a curator is to display information in a way that the collection of data tells a story that can not just be told by one individual object or work. This is a very interesting problem in modern web development now, where we are constantly looking at new data visualization techniques. I think the modern curator can really be anyone who is trying to make sense of physical or digital data by telling a story, and I think is a fantastic platform to enable anyone to become a curator.

  • crinard-reading3

    Reading 3: Critical Curation and Exhibition Technologies

    If I understand the reading correctly, the long and short of it is that in earlier eras, it was common for objects to be destroyed and very hard to copy objects, and materials from the past were a precious commodity. With the increasing production and transfer of information in the current digital age far outstrips our ability to digest it. This poses a problem for us, as it makes curation much harder; it used to be easy to determine what the best thing to exhibit is, where now it’s an impossible choice.

    This seems like a problem that is not at all limited to hte musuem; in all areas of life there is now an information overload. As time goes on, even primitives like sight and sound are being hijacked to feed more content. Think of the wearable devices that we now have, and the concept of VR/AR. It may not be there, but I’m confident that we will at some point have little semblance to life in previous eras. I don’t see this as limited to a given field, or even as an extensitial problem. We’ll just have to adapt to this phenomonon, and there are all sorts of problems that will arise in doing so.

  • Digital Humanities, the Curator as Educator, and Learning - JL2

    For the Burdick reading on Enhanced Critical Curation, we see themes that are emerging still today: an abundance of information, a need and desire to (critically) sort through it and present it, a continued need to tell stories and communicate the human narrative. I think about the role of the curator as educator, especially in framing museums as learning spaces: “existence of vast quantities of data, articfacts, or products is in no guarantee of impact or quality” (Burdick, 2012). I think in the present day, with all the information at learners’ access, and more and more becoming available everyday, I wonder how curators mirror / are educators in the sense of helping to guide people to critically understanding and making sense of all of that information. Do curators have more control over what exactly they present (vs. teachers in a traditional formal classroom) and how does that interact with the learning experience?

  • Digital Humanities Reading

    This reading highlights how the practice of copying resources to proliferate knowledge within the scholarly community was seen as “inherently good,” which brought to my attention a difference in attitudes. While digitizing has played a major role in making previously rare resources more widely available, we also discussed previously in class the treasured “oneness” of the objects we find in museums. It seems like if visitors’ top priority in visiting museums was to gain knowledge, the public would be more open to the idea of viewing replicas or digital art. One could study the brushstrokes of a painting or the details of a paleontological artifact just as clearly on a well-done duplicate as the original. Yet, there still seems to be some reservation in embracing replicated objects, which makes me think that there is some psychological element at play that makes a unique object more attractive. Perhaps it’s the bond between the stories an object represents and the viewer that resonates more strongly through an original object. If so, one application of technology in museums could be to consider how to preserve this connection across time and people.

  • Digital Curation and Crafting a Story

    With the internet containing seemingly infinite amounts of information, anyone with internet access can learn about anything. However, internet browsing and clicking through random websites to learn about a topic isn’t really meaningful unless one is able to string bits and pieces of information together as one cohesive story. Yet, this isn’t as easy as it seems, simply because there is so much information out there, and there are so many stories to tell, and there are even numerous perspectives on just one story.

    One quote stood out to me: “To curate is to filter, organize, craft,and ultimately, care for a story composed out of - even rescued from - the infinite array of potential tales, relics, and voices” (34). In a digital sphere and in a digitized society, the work of the curator goes beyond just finding artifacts and information, as anyone can do that, but crafting a story that people care about from them.

  • critical curation reading

    I find it interesting how curators have now become responsible for the organization, condensation, prioritization, and presentation of data nowadays. Sometimes I’ve wondered when I search things online- though it feels like the topic I’m searching up has a lot of information on it, the sites that I end up getting into all seem to contain the same limited amount of info. Data, in a sense, has become “useless” or “lost” because of its sheer amount, and the data that comes to the surface is what people choose to be important and relevant.

    I wonder how curators can take responsibility for this (and what they want to take responsibility for) when it comes to data/info and its presentation/meaning?

  • Assignment 3 Readings - Anugrah Chemparathy

    Comments on Enhanced Critical Curation

    Today’s short reading talks about the changing value of knowledge aggregation over the timeline of human history. For example, in the era of the ancient Greeks, accumulating and cataloging literature amounted to something more than the sum of its parts (not just a simple laundry list of book titles and essays).

    Reading the chapter I had two primary thoughts.

    First, in the modern day we are forced to become curators of our own knowledge collection. The internet has put dozens of human lifetime’s worth of random information in front of us and we slowly learn to parse our way through it.

    Secondly, we really need to start asking what knowledge is worth keeping, duplicating, and presenting and what can simply be left as is. There’s just so much knowledge out there that we can no longer act as aggregators - one of my math professors once said that [in his opinion] the most valuable scientific results are not necessarily completely novel ones, but rather the ones that condense valuable information and ideas and help connect the body of human [mathematical] knowledge.

  • Assignment 3 _Digital Humanities

    This reading on the history of curation reminds me of how much challenges have been raised under the fact that collection-building and curation have remained constants of humanistic knowledge production. Especially moving on to the digital era, digital curators have to deal with a larger quantity of online content such as social media posts, videos, images, and articles across a wide variety of genres. They are responsible for selecting, categorizing, and creating series of collections that offer a specific perspective or focus. From my personal standpoint, sourcing and selecting within collections and documentions throughout thousands of years of history is indeed out of human capacity, suggesting an area where AI can take over and prevent the problem of data overload. AI can also reduce concerns over human manipulation in areas such as lack of standards, ethical considerations, as well as data privacy and security.

  • Assignment 3 - Digital Humanities Anirudh Rahul

    Enhanced Critical Curation

    This section of the book goes covers some of the ways collections have changed throughout history and why curation has become increasingly important over time.

    Collection-building has a long history in literature, with even ancient literary forms utilizing inventorying and cataloging as key features of poetic communication. The use of catalogs and lists can create a vivid representation that treads the line between verbal and visual figuration, condensing information into an art of memory and data compression.

    But in modern times the need for preserving items in collections solely for information is largely unnecessary. With the advent of digital storage, many previously one-of-a-kind items could be duplicated and stored endlessly, so then there arises a question of what purposes collections serve in our digital age. While there are many different answers to this question I think that the role of physical collections in the modern era has largely flipped. In ancient times we had places like the Library of Alexandria holding thousands of scrolls giving people unprecedented access to knowledge, but in modern times we have the opposite problem with there being such an unprecedented amount of data available at our fingertips, being able to compress some portion of humanities collective knowledge and display it in a digestible way is becoming an increasingly important skill.

  • aouyang-assignment-3

    Enhanced Critical Curation

    In the pre-digital age, information is scarce and to accumulate as much information as possible is always considered good. Compared to the pre-digital age, curators today face the opposite problem –– there is too much information, and the problem lies more in finding ways to organize the information. The article mentions “poetic composition as a compression algorithm and audience reception as a decompression tool”; however, the overload of information today means that the compression is not lossless, and what is discarded as part of the collection might gradually fade into obscruity. At the same time, what is chosen as being displayed might be too limited or subjective to show the audience the full picture. In conclusion, the question of choosing what to display versus what to omit can be a tricky problem.

  • Assignment 3

    Enhanced Critical Curation

    I found the message that the information overload of the modern world enhances and emphasizes the need for a curator to be very powerful. In addition to the fact that they need to spend more time sorting the giant sets of data to find what is truly valuable, the digitization of the world makes it even more challenging to sort through multimedia collections. The curators who are taking on this task are essentially the visitor’s filter, looking for the best way to present a story around an item in the vast collection of information and knowledge.

    While finishing up this reading, I remembered a video I watched a while back that explained how more than 90% of specimens in the Smithsonian is in storage rooms. The knowledge resonated with the realization that curators in this day and age have a lot of choices when it comes to designing and choosing the different pieces for an exhibition. How and what they choose can have a huge impact on the experience of the museum as a whole, as most visitors do not have the chance to see the entire collection.

  • reading-3-tklouie

    Critical Curation

    Having lived only in a generation of information overload and digitization, I found this topic of curation versus collection an interesting aspect to explore. Part of this comes from exhibitions, which can only meaningfully display a number of objects, and one key information overload comes from photography and photos.

    I am curious about the factors that come when choosing photographs (or more generally or visual 2D objects) to display: does only choosing the ones in best condition defeat the idea of historical authenticity? What about in terms of sharing the context behind the photo? The intent of the photographer- as an art form, for publicity, for social justice. And what does a “personal photo” when created for oneself such as a portrait or just ones we have in our phones now, serve to outsiders years later?

  • Reading #03

    It is interesting to learn about how the digital world is restoring some historical information. Without technology, it would not have been possible to rely on memory or other means of inventory. However, since collections are the archetype of knowledge production, the abundance of knowledge dilutes their values. The book used the terms “collection-building” and “curation” in several instances and sometimes interchangeably. It was only at the end of the text that it brought forth the importance of curation and what it means to be a curator. A collection has its own unique value because it typically narrates a story that its collector gets to portray. Nevertheless, when a collection loses its sense of uniqueness and its story, it becomes a mere tool of accumulation or clutter and loses its sense of curation. Digital curation needs to strike a balance between the two. Digital curation should not lose the human touch, as knowledge production is a purely social practice.

  • Enhanced Critical Curation

    It was interesting to read about how “curation” can essentially be thought of as the filtration and organization of an array of materials and cultural records to create “value, impact, and quality”. It is evident that the curator, who acts as a “supervisor” to this organization of records, has power in shaping our interpretations and ideas. If, like the reading suggests, creating impact and value are essential to this idea of “curating”, it is interesting to consider the many curators of our lives - from teachers/educators as curators of knowledge, parents and authority figures as curators of morals, etc.

    In the digital age, there exists an abundance of information and knowledge (“collections”), most of which cannot keep up with the capabilities of “traditional institutions of memory”. This results in plenty of “data trash”, highlighting the essential role of a curator in today’s age to navigate these collections. With the plethora of information today, the “curator” has more power than ever in dictating which voices and stories are heard from this “infinite array of potential tales”.

  • What is a museum & more

    What is a Museum?

    One thing I want to comment on is the mention of the Exploratorium in San Francisco. I have been to this museum many times, and it is definitely one of my favorites. The Exploratorium is an extremely interactive museum - you can touch almost everything, and it is a place of learning, not of looking. It is primarily intended for kids, but they have stuff to do that is interesting to everyone. I would say that the Exploratorium is my favorite example of a new-age museum. In this article, and the ones from last week, the authors pointed out that modern museums need to become disconnected from the objects that they own or use. I was really struggling with this concept, as I personally felt that the objects are what define a museum. I go to a museum because there are specific objects I want to see, rather than going to a museum for the experience that the museum is going to create for me. I think this is especially true for art museums. I also am struggling with the concept of the online museum - I personally feel that I assign less value to things I see on the internet than in person, mainly due to how easy it is to use. It seems way less special to view something on the internet than in person. However, the mention of the Exploratoium helped me reshape my view of modern museums. I still do not believe that online museums are a good solution, but the Exploratorium does a great job of creating interactive experiences for the guests that go beyond the objects that they hold.

    How the Pandemic Changed Museums Forever (or Did It?)

    I think that virtual museums are tricky for two reasons. First, I do not think technology is good enough now to recreate the in person viewing experience. I personally strongly dislike 3D tours on the internet. Using a keyboard and mouse is such a non intuitive way to pass through a space. The places you can go are very limited (usually you can just pick the center spot of a few rooms) and provide too much rigidity. Second, I am concerned that this will turn away the casual museum-goer. Museums attract a lot of different types of people - people who are fascinated by the art or content, people who are there for the architecture of the building, people there just to hang out and read, and people who just happen to stop by and look for something to do. When a museum is online, you only really attract the people who are really into the content that the museum has. While I love going to museums, I never even considered looking into online museums during the pandemic.

    Bouncing back: the US museums that have regained the visitors lost to Covid closures

    I thought this was a very interesting article. I did not realize that larger museums have been suffering much more than small to medium sized ones post-pandemic, but I would say this has been consistent with my personal preferences. People are more interested in specialization now, and smaller museums can focus more on creating more relevant experiences and exhibits to the people that are visiting. Huge museums that have a wide variety of experiences and works can more easily be replaced by digital means. This is also consistent with what was mentioned in the readings from last week, where it was explained that museums will shift to a hyper local focus. I think the pandemic expedited this change as people have been searching for more unique and meaningful experiences.

  • What is a Museum and Covid-19

    As the generations who engage with museums are changing and evolving, most museums themselves are changing and evolving as well. The history of museums emphasize collecting as a human instinct - one of physical security, social distinction, the pursuit of knowledge and connoisseurship, and a desire for a sort of immortality (Alexander and Alexander 8). Museums honored objects, whether it be fine art or trinkets, rarities, and coins. As museums shifted from private to public institutions, simply opening up the doors of museums to the public was not enough to make museums and their content and mission accessible to the public. Alexander and Alexander described how visitors once entered museums that had been “described to them as a land of wonders, and they discovered they were aliens in it” (9). Museums today are still coming up with new ways to make their collections accessible to everyone who wants to experience the exhibits.

    There is a tension between museums as houses of objects and as places of experience. As museums lean towards showcasing artifacts in new ways, it must be ensured that allowing visitors to engage with the artifacts as they see fit isn’t preventing viewers from viewing objects in a more traditional sense as well. One article “How Will Covid-19 Change the Way Museums are Built” by Jennifer Black explores how COVID-19 and desires for social distancing could change how exhibits are designed. Bea Spolidoro, an architect who focuses on public health in her designs, suggests a labyrinth design, a similar concept to the Ikea superstore in which there is a clear, curated path throughout the exhibit where visitors don’t pass the same object twice, in order to avoid having large groups of people in one open space (Black 5). However, this approach takes power away from the visitor to engage with the objects in the order they best see fit, whether this even may mean revisiting objects. Alexander and Alexander quoted Didier Maleuvre and his philosophy on this: “The museum does give free time - freedom to loiter and tarry, to indulge the double-take, the retracing of steps, the dreamy pause, the regress and ingress of reverie, the wending process that is engagement” (4). Ensuring the health and safety of visitors shouldn’t have to change the way an exhibit is experienced.

    Rachel B. Levin’s article, “How the Pandemic Changed Museums Forever (or Did It?)”, discussed how covid-19 led the USC museum to create digital ways for visitors to engage with the museum from their own homes. This led the museum to adapt the innovative technologies of 3d virtual tours in which visitors can still experience the works at their own pace and having virtual programming which greatly increased attendance. Though, attendance isn’t always the best way to measure the impact of museums, and having programming online rather than in person certainly takes away from such aspects of human connection that many museums are trying to emphasize through their programs. As covid leads more museums to develop their digital presence, it is important that technology isn’t being used to replace in person exhibits, but to enhance them.

  • Place of the muses, COVID-19 and the Curiosity Cabinet

    I love etymology, and I think it’s so interesting how this word “museum” derives from a place meaning “place of the muses’’ (Alexander and Alexander, 2008) and this idea of connection between musing and amusement; personally I think this highlighting of play runs integral to how I perceive all learning experiences. The notion of museums as places of education and public enlightenment (Alexander and Alexander, 2008); I’m thinking back to last week and talking about the participatory museum and how, if it is the goal, to invite people in so that the space itself may not be the source of enlightenment but the people brought to the space and what they carry is a source. I am always thinking about assessment and measurement and how can we know if something is “working”: “What’s the appropriate criteria for measuring the impact of museums? How does a museum quantify its visitors’ quiet, reflective inspiration” (Alexander and Alexander, 2008) posits a really interesting idea: measuring impact through silence. I think back to our sticky notes on things in museums we didn’t like and how multiple notes were pointing out the idea of being uncomfortably or forcibly silent. Is this something that museums want to promote, especially if participatory engagement is the goal? And if not, what other methods can we use to assess engagement and impact? How does that interact with the social notion of “museums of science as schools… museums of art as temples’’ (Alexander and Alexander, 2008)?

    In COVID-19, an argument made for funding and supporting museums as vital and essential institutions was that they contain “educational opportunity and collections access” (Wyld, 2020). I think this dichotomy is very interesting, especially in direct juxtaposition with the statements by Alexander and Alexander (2008) of museums as places of education and places of enlightenment. The difference highlighted in the two works may point to the differences in public perception; perhaps the former article is leveraging the fact that more work needs to be done in the public image to reshape museums from places that collect and hold things to places that can engage and enlighten (through participatory practice). With the pandemic, there was time to reassess and understand fully that there was a need to “[make] people the center of the building” (Pogrebin, 2022). There’s increased understanding that people do want museums and want to go in person and do want to participate and be a part of the space. That aligns with the participatory elements we covered last week. One museum executive said: “if you build it, they will come” (Pogrebin, 2022) and I think this is a bold assumption, perhaps flying in the face of standard best practices, and I wonder if that approach parallels older conceptions of museums: being solitary and in-and-of-themselves places of enlightenment, as opposed to creating spaces where people can bring all of themselves and produce in and with the space and learn together.

    Looking at the curiosity cabinet, I think the reframing from it as a prototype museum to a site of cultural practice (Bowry, 2014) can teach us things about museums and our perception of them today. What really stood out to me was the dynamic classification system and purpose of the cabinet. Classifying for a desired quality AND simultaneously understanding and appreciating the idiosyncrasy of that approach (Bowry, 2014) AND allowing for different classifications / multiple classifications really challenges how (at least I) think about museums displaying objects they have. This moving of things around, this ability to coexist through multiple ideas and intentions, and on top of that this idea that the arrangement and collection is an attempt to make sense of the world and create wisdom; I think this idea is implicit within museums and I think it could be made more powerful and compelling if spelled out even more. I think Bowry’s final notes are important to remember: “knowledge… [is] constructed and situated – [it] only operate[s] within a very precise context” (Bowry, 2014); who is creating the knowledge, who chooses what knowledge to create, who is it for?

  • Experience over aesthetic

    The visual aesthetic vs. experience

    I particularily enjoyed the author’s reframing of curiosity cabinets as experiences rather than collections of objects in Bowry 2014. One of my favourite things about art, or just representation in general, is the discussion of the creater or collector’s pysche. The things that we collect, represent, create, in other words, the things that we make special say so much about us. We can use represented objects as a pleasurable way to see into each other’s minds, a task which normally we only do through conversation. Seeing curiosity cabinets through the lens of our desire to make sense of the natural and artifical world through categorization and comparison, I think frames these sites as processes or experiences, and unbinds them from being just an object in a cabinet.

    A way of bridging experiences through time is an intruging creative project. It reminds me of moments where film makers will blend works of history with modern cultural references to invoke sensation rather than a visual or literal experience. For example, Baz Luhrmann’s used music from Jay-Z in the Great Gatsby (2013) instead of jazz music which would have been played at the time, to make the connection between how it feels to hear Jay-Z in 2013 and Jazz in 1922. Or the coming-of-age structure of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006) to paint her lead as a teenaged girl.

    If we were make a space which did for people now what curiousity cabinets did for people then, what would they look like? How do we make sense of the world through categorization and comparison? A Pinterest board comes to mind sooner than a cupboard of objects.

    Feeling wary of efforts to optimize museums for pandemic restrictions

    Perhaps this comment is too heavily influenced by my own fatigue around “the new normal” and all the ways that the world wants to change as a result of Covid-19. I see a lot of articles like these which ask us to consider how we might reshape museums and other public spaces to protect and prevent pandemics, but generally felt more compelled by the ideas in the reading ‘What is a museum”. The pandemic may have changed the way we look at public space, and added design considerations to their implementation, but in just one way. The work on redefining museums has begun long before our attention was drawn tightly to the issues of air and surface contamination. I would hate to see reactionary restrictions put in place, or too much focus being placed on digital mediums, without considering the vast array of values which also matter in the creation of the “new museum/unmuseum”. By treating pandemic restrictions as a problem to solve do we miss out on more out-of-the-box creative solutions which hollistically design spaces by our values, goals, and also modern constraints?

  • Enhanced Critical Curation - (Candy Xie)

    Enhanced Critical Curation

    While reading “Enhanced Critical Curation,” I was reminded of the question we discussed in class regarding museums conveying clear messages to the audiences. It is interesting to think about how it’s not only the collection of artifacts that can tell visitors what the museum is about, it’s more about how the works inside are curated and organized.

    The comparison the author makes between museum curation and data compression seems really intriguing to me, and I am convinced that there are many noticeable similarities between these two tasks. For museum curation, a large chunk of information comprising the huge amounts of artifacts and their stories needs to be compressed into something more accessible and digestible for the visitors. There is this encoding-decoding process. Curators choose how they want to encode the exhibition, and the visitors decode the message using their own private key, adding a personal touch to how they interpret the visit to the museum and thus personalize their own experience.

    While data compression is an effective tool for transferring messages, there are certain limitations of it, and I wonder if museum curation also faces such limitations. For instance, data compressed might not be able to be converted by certain software because of lack of features. Similarly, the information compressed by curators and presented to the public might be hard to interpret for certain groups of people, such as those who have basically no previous exposure to the overarching topic or message. Curators are like experts in the field of the museum, so they might not be able to realize how their message can not be easily perceived by others and need more specificity and context. Another issue in data compression is that devices receiving the message might have limited processing power, which also applies to museum curation. The audiences also have limited capacity in the amount of information they can memorize in their brains. So I wonder how curators can find the balance between trying to present as much information as possible to the audiences and avoiding overwhelming them with too much data.

  • Critical Curation

    In reading “Enhanced Critical Curation,” I’m first considering the ways in which those of us on social media are a sort of curator already - how we curate our feeds, our likes, our reposts. I wonder if museums can capitalize on this for a sort of interactive activity. Working with youth now and in the past, this is where my mind seems to wander. It could be a compelling prompt for visitors of a museum space to consider how they would curate an exhibit. Would they keep all of the pieces in a similar fashion? Is there something they think doesn’t fit? How would they rearrange?

    Further, when considering the vast amounts of information that are at the tips of our fingers, as Burdick et al reference, it begs the question of how to curate for meaning and interrogation. As they assert, “the mere existence of vast quantities of data, artifacts, or products is no guarantee of impact or quality” (Burdick et al, 2012, p. 34). Supporting the thesis of the article, this makes the case for critical curation. How can curators aid visitors (whether online or in person) toward meaning-making? And how are curators meant to assess value, impact, and quality?

  • covid and stories on museums

    There were several things that stuck me while reading the “What is a Museum?” excerpt. In the past, museums have been heavily focused on collections, and access was limited to the general public. It talked about how people seem to have this fervor for collecting. One of the reasons as to why that might be (and personally) is that there are stories behind all of the objects collected- even if it just looks cool, “I found a shiny object at the side of the road” is great too. It feels like that story element was lost when the general public was introduced to museums. There was no guidance for interpretation on those who didn’t know “how” to appreciate the collections (here, “how” is very extremely subjective). For me personally, I feel like I’ve found museums lacking when there is a lack of story. After a while, shiny things just become shiny things. I wonder if there’s a way for people to engage with what’s behind the objects without going out of the way to talk to museum staff in order to learn more? Additionally, is there a way to engage that takes into account new forms of media since people are becoming more reluctant to initiate learning about something through reading a long block of text? If there are collections of objects, is there someone who is welcoming enough talk to who can share their passion for it all? After all, at least personally, museum staff always feel a little standoff-ish to me (an introvert who has a hard time approaching people). At the end, the paragraph about measuring success is very interesting to me. I personally agree with the parts of the reading where I think museums themselves should decide what they want to focus on and what type of museum they want to be. But, I wonder if there’s better ways for museums to get feedback from their users rather than generally-ignored optional emails, and data on traffic from their website. Perhaps a lot of problems can be solved just by creating a feedback loop within the design of the museum’s experience. Highlight on the museum’s experience, rather than just the museum experience.

    On covid: So according to the Morning Consult article, consumers are getting more comfortable with museums throughout the pandemic. I think one of the major complaints of traditional museums (let’s say, art museums) before COVID is how quiet it is. That there’s a certain level of etiquette to be maintained- that the museum seems to be above you, as a human, in the sheer amount of space and the elegance. People needed to respect others space, and some didn’t understand how others can stare at something for hours on end, wondering if they should be doing that too. It’s interesting to see that people are more comfortable with museums now since covid. Part of it may be because museums are changing and have been rethinking their exhibits since covid, but also- from a psychological perspective, people are more receptive to staying away from others, being quiet, and respecting other people’s boundaries socially. Covid seems to have given people an excuse to be quiet, and others have been okay with that. The grand and spacious interiors are now comforting with the 6-foot rule, so it’s only natural that people feel more comfortable in them. The other articles are emphasizing a lot on museums moving virtual/digitally, and having hybrid options. I wonder how that’ll go in terms of new forms of story-telling, maintaining a genuine feeling of wonder while at the museum, rather than viewing from the comfort of our own homes, and creating genuine experiences for people? There’s so many directions to go in because of the digital age- infinitely more so than all the questions “What is a Museum?” posed.

  • Assignment 2: Reading Comment

    What is a Museum

    Knowing how collections have diminished within museums, some people including Stenphen Williams hold strong opinions that a museum without a collection is not a museum, similar to the beliefs that “a historical society without a collection is only an affinity group; a historic site without a collection is only a local attraction.” I personally do not quite agree with this statement in a sense that the value of a museum should not be defined by the volume of collections but the messages that it effectively delivers to the visitors. As museums are often considered a place for learning, they should be treated like universities and modern libraries where the volume of books is no longer an accurate measurement of their success. Instead, the capability of fostering an immersive learning experience as an educator is something more challenging and rewarding than simply collecting objects.

    Another reason behind my stance on this debate is the human desire for collections, which takes away the pure incentive of collecting for learning. By the words of Sir Kenneth Clark, collecting objects is understood as a biological function, often for the reasons such as desire for physical security, social distinction, with to achieve immortality, and national glory, in addition to the pursuit of knowledge and connoisseurship, which showcases valuing the collections more than the museum itself is indeed a controversial and potentially outdated thought. What are the implications behind this debate, and how can we interpret the tendency towards the absence of collections in contemporary museums?

    Museums in the World Around Covid-19 & Bouncing Back: the US museums that have regained the visitors lost to Covid closures

    In the article “Museums in the World Around Covid-19”, it suggests the norm that many museums are transitioning toward the digital world where activities on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been developed onto a professional level. I see this trend also as a catalyst for the growth of interactive digitalization in modern museums. From my personal experience with the local museums in Fort Worth, Texas, they have indeed been working hard toward combating the impacts of the pandemic by promoting innovative and covid-friendly activities. Some approaches I have seen include organizing more outdoor activities, and I eventually came to the understanding of why online platforms have become a popular option.

    In the article “Bouncing Back: the US museums that have regained the visitors lost to Covid closures”, it suggests that larger museums suffered the most from the loss of oversea visitors even until today while the medium size museums have recovered to the pre-pandemic level. I’ve observed a very similar phenomenon as the number of Chinese tourists overseas have declined significantly in the past three years. Although now the immediate danger of pandemic is over, the new customer behaviors as well as the remaining foreign policies on covid restriction are still threatening the attendance of global museums. What can museums do to make up for this portion of visitors’ loss?

  • Assignment 2: Museums in Antiquity and COVID-19

    On Museums in Antiqyity

    Musems In Motion by Alexader and Alexander and Before Museums: The Curiosity Cabinet as Metamorphe by Stephanie Bowry

    While most of the definitions mentioned in the “Museum in Motion” book contained a common denominator, namely that a museum is an educational space, the one that left me pondering was the writing of a German writer: “where every separate object kills every other and all of them together, the visitor.” It was in this collection of words that I truly felt the intangible definition of a museum. It kills you without killing you. It forces you to revisit new experiences. One can’t relive new experiences without dying. It is as if all the objects compete with one another. Every object wants to outlive its rival, and in doing so, they embellish themselves to leave the viewer in awe. Their collectivity kills their viewers, only to make them realize new aspects of life. They metamorphose their viewers. They are thus inspirational.

    I find this in alignment with what was said in the “Before Museums: The Curiosity Cabinet as Metamorphe” article: it is the curiosity cabinet that allows infinite possibilities to house contrasting objects, including life and death, and to interpret various objects within the artwork and the artwork as a whole.

    This, however, seems to contradict what the Canadian anthropologist Michael Ames alluded to as reported in the “Museum in Motion” book: “Museums by their very nature limit their audiences’ abilities to make sense of collections and place them in broader social context.”

    Concerning the etymology of the word “museum,” “mouseion,” and the fact that it was inhabited by philosophers and was regarded as the residence of the elite, thinkers, inventors, and scientists, I wonder if this resulted in deterring people until recently from visiting museums or from considering museums as social spaces, as Simon indicated in her TED Talk “The Participatory Museum” (2010). Part of the reason why Stoic philosophy was taught in public spaces was to allow access to knowledge in non-institutional places and to make this knowledge available for those who truly wanted to be enlightened but had no means to attend or access professional institutions. This calls for further investigation into whether this has anything to do with the museum’s antiquity or who had access to the museum.

    On Musems and COVID-19:

    After a Covid Contraction, Museums Are Expanding Again by Robin Pogrebin and Post-COVID, How Can Museums Remain Essential? By Torey Akers

    While museums suffered immensely during COVID-19, as history narrates that disease and war diminished art and the humanities, it seems that museums are nonetheless flourishing, and more museums are being built or renovated. This is not unexpected. Humans live on connection, and museums and art accentuate this connection. During the pandemic, I joined an online group called “For the Love of Art,” which hosted online art sessions from Bosotn when I was living in Montreal at the time. Many people were longing for those sessions and attended to connect, socialize, examine, and interpret art pieces, or meet with curators. This article also discussed how museums emerged from the pandemic to shift their focus to make the visitor experience more engaging and unparalleled.

    Akers seems to think the same way. The pandemic has forced museums to reestablish their values within society and rethink the ways in which they connect with it. I wish that the article had expanded on the digitization of museums or the hybrid museum. It seems that we have fertile soil for digitization, but this route is yet to be explored.

  • Assignment 2 Anugrah

    Reading Comments: What is a Museum?

    The notion of the museum can be traced all the way back to the temples of the ancient Greeks, and perhaps also the outdoor landmarks of Roman emperor Hadrian. However the notion of the modern museum is probably much more directly connected to the Italian galleria - a collection of interesting items which the Germans would call Wunderkammer (as we discussed in class). As early as the 17th century, these private collections began to become public displays,

    Alexander rationalizes the prevalence of museums, stating that “collecting seems to be instinctive for many human beings”. However the modern museum that Alexander describes has a much more complex motive - with the growing popularity of these public collections, museums became much more prominent cultural spaces for education which both celebrated and educated on technical accomplishments and scientific progress. Museums appear to have correspondingly grown in their social context to be fundamental pieces of the modern world - both as a lens to the past and a way to peer into a potential scientific future.

    Museums and COVID-19

    How the Pandemic Changed Museums Forever (or Did It?)

    Intuitively it seems that the pandemic would have fundamentally tarnished the museums as a means of communicating history and art. So much is just “different” about the experience of exploring a physical space and seeing the works presented just as the director intended. In some other ways, the digital transformation was hugely beneficial. For example, Rika Hira - postdoc at USC - observed that “without the physical limitations of a gallery space” the amount of items which could be displayed doubled, and certain works that were too fragile to be physically presented could be used in the display. In some ways the digital nudge might be incredibly beneficial to the future of museums, and allow them to better blend digital and physical forms of art - thus sidestepping the traditional limitations of the museum medium.

    How Will Covid-19 Change the Way Museums Are Built?

    This article begins by commenting that in the aftermath of Tuberculosis, the city of New York fundamentally changed how they built everything from houses to hospitals. The logical follow up in the context of Covid 19 is then to ask how the pandemic might affect how we present museums. In the first place, the pandemic has mandated social distancing which I suspect strongly influences what kinds of objects work better in creating a cohesive display. For example, it might be better to present large paintings that can be appreciated at a distance without forcing viewers too close to one another. On the other hand, advances in digital AR technology might fundamentally transform how we approach museums in the first place - maybe museums as buildings will start to become more like digital walking experiences.

  • Assignment 2 - Anirudh Rahul

    What is a Museum?

    The modern museum concept evolved as a result of the convergence of several intellectual and cultural trends, including the Renaissance humanism, Enlightenment, and 19th-century democracy. The idea of a museum as a public space for the exhibition of art, artifacts, and scientific specimens was a new concept that emerged in the 16th century. The gallery, which was a large, grand hall that was well-lit from the side, was used for the display of paintings and sculptures. On the other hand, the cabinet was a square-shaped room filled with a diverse collection of items, including stuffed animals, botanical specimens, small works of art, and curiosities. These collections were typically reserved for the wealthy and privileged and were not accessible to the general public.

    The evolution of museums in North America can be traced back to the founding of the Charleston Museum in 1773, and it was around that time that smaller museums began to seek funding via paid admissions. In 1870 three of the greatest American museums were founded: the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. This year marked the beginning of the United States as a major player in museums.

    At the beginning of the 21st century, museums have continued to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of their audiences. Some institutions now describe themselves as “a museum different,” emphasizing their unique perspectives, programming, and interactive experiences. Other museums, like the “unmuseum,” challenge traditional notions of what a museum should be, focusing on unconventional approaches to exhibitions, education, and community engagement.

    Museums and COVID-19

    Are Museums on the Brink of Extinction After COVID-19?

    This article by David Wyld argues that museums particularly American ones, were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and he backed this up with a statistic claiming that 1 in 3 American museums were at risk for permanent closure after the pandemic. He argues that the loss of museums carries an immense societal risk as they hold invaluable pieces of history that provide immense value to society as a whole. Wyld also states that it’s imperative that we as a society support museums financially whether it’s collectively through legislation in state and local governments, or through corporate or individual donations.

    Post-COVID, How Can Museums Remain Essential?

    This article covers topics from a CIMAM webinar with the goal of trying to find the purpose of museums in 2021 post COVID-19.

    One of the main takeaways from the discussion was the inevitable change in the museum world. The speakers emphasized the importance of shedding old perspectives and adapting to new ways of operating. The rise of digital hybridity and the need for museums to pace themselves with their audience were also discussed. This shift to digital has not only been necessary but also has opened up new possibilities for museums to reach a wider audience.

    Another important aspect of the discussion was the economic recovery of museums. The speakers emphasized the need for museums to think beyond just sustaining jobs, but also about how they can contribute to the social and economic recovery of their communities.

    Finally, the panelists emphasized the importance of museums having both a local and global perspective. Museums should be rooted in their local culture, but they should also be inclusive and not lead to the exclusion of other cultures or be preferential of some arts over others.

  • Assignment 1

    I was pretty interested in the article “2040: Hello and Welcome to the Future” which describes how the role of museums has changed in the past couple decades. Rozan comments on how museums have become more interdisciplinary as a result of the declining popularity of the traditional museum styles. It seems that in the modern day, museums are cultural centers far more than they are just ways to study history. This is a pretty interesting change - growing up I always associated museums with famous old works of art, but perhaps now the classification can be applied more generally. I used to spend a lot of time at the local observatory near my house which had exhibits about science and the night sky with telescopes to look through and demonstrations to watch. Perhaps this is a more modern interpretation of a museum that Rozan is talking about - somewhere that you can go to look at cool things, but also to learn as a child or even as an adult.

    Previously, museums were primarily places for people to look at relics of the past, but they’ve since grown into ways to look to the present and future. Rozan comments that “20 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2060 haven’t been invented yet” and that museums can rise to fill the role of public education for the more diverse work styles that may exist in the future. This part also seems quite interesting to me - the observatory I went to a lot as a kid served as a community center where kids could get lectures from nearby high schoolers about random science topics. Perhaps at some point in the future such “science - museums” ill evolve into also serving as places for adults to learn cutting edge science.

  • Andrew Stoddard - Assignment 2

    What is a Museum?

    One thing I want to comment on is the mention of the Exploratorium in San Francisco. I have been to this museum many times, and it is definitely one of my favorites. The Exploratorium is an extremely interactive museum - you can touch almost everything, and it is a place of learning, not of looking. It is primarily intended for kids, but they have stuff to do that is interesting to everyone. I would say that the Exploratorium is my favorite example of a new-age museum. In this article, and the ones from last week, the authors pointed out that modern museums need to become disconnected from the objects that they own or use. I was really struggling with this concept, as I personally felt that the objects are what define a museum. I go to a museum because there are specific objects I want to see, rather than going to a museum for the experience that the museum is going to create for me. I think this is especially true for art museums. I also am struggling with the concept of the online museum - I personally feel that I assign less value to things I see on the internet than in person, mainly due to how easy it is to use. It seems way less special to view something on the internet than in person. However, the mention of the Exploratoium helped me reshape my view of modern museums. I still do not believe that online museums are a good solution, but the Exploratorium does a great job of creating interactive experiences for the guests that go beyond the objects that they hold.

    How the Pandemic Changed Museums Forever (or Did It?)

    I think that virtual museums are tricky for two reasons. First, I do not think technology is good enough now to recreate the in person viewing experience. I personally strongly dislike 3D tours on the internet. Using a keyboard and mouse is such a non intuitive way to pass through a space. The places you can go are very limited (usually you can just pick the center spot of a few rooms) and provide too much rigidity. Second, I am concerned that this will turn away the casual museum-goer. Museums attract a lot of different types of people - people who are fascinated by the art or content, people who are there for the architecture of the building, people there just to hang out and read, and people who just happen to stop by and look for something to do. When a museum is online, you only really attract the people who are really into the content that the museum has. While I love going to museums, I never even considered looking into online museums during the pandemic.

    Bouncing back: the US museums that have regained the visitors lost to Covid closures

    I thought this was a very interesting article. I did not realize that larger museums have been suffering much more than small to medium sized ones post-pandemic, but I would say this has been consistent with my personal preferences. People are more interested in specialization now, and smaller museums can focus more on creating more relevant experiences and exhibits to the people that are visiting. Huge museums that have a wide variety of experiences and works can more easily be replaced by digital means. This is also consistent with what was mentioned in the readings from last week, where it was explained that museums will shift to a hyper local focus. I think the pandemic expedited this change as people have been searching for more unique and meaningful experiences.

  • What is a Museum?

    What is a museum?

    The ideas that I found particularly intriguing in this reading was the way in which “museums by their very nature limit their audiences’ abilities to make sense of collections and place them in broader social contexts”, as well as the shift from the more tangible focus of a museum (through objects, artifacts, collections, etc) , to an institution that focuses more on the intangible exchange of ideas and concepts. When thinking about how the ‘traditional’ museum is curated, there often seems to be some ‘overarching system’ that lies behind most museums. Many museums with a focus on the fine arts or history seem to organize their spaces periodically, with the visitor passing through time and history as they wander through the grounds. If not periodical, spaces are often organized thematically, with artworks and objects clustered together according to if they fit some predetermined theme like “Love” or “Childhood”. I am interested in the extent to which this categorical approach that many museums seem to utilize is limiting and restricting to the audience or viewer. If, for example, a Monet painting is displayed amongst a myriad of other impressionist paintings, the viewer may indeed get a good grasp of impressionism, but their ability to view the painting from a new and unexpected lens may be diminished. What if this same painting was exhibited amongst a mixture of randomly selected works that have no relation to one another? How would this impact the audience’s understanding, interpretation, and appreciation of the work? The reading often mentions this idea of education and learning, and I feel as though many museums (in the traditional sense) still seem to have a strong sense of system and ‘taxonomy’ driving it. This brings into question the level to which an object, painting, idea, or concept is stuck in time, or can travel forward to new contexts and interpretations.

    The ‘sanitizing, insulating, plasticizing, and preserving’ of ideas and objects seems to be a significant part of the nature of the traditional museum. While many museums have shifted to have a more fluid, dynamic, and audience-centered approach, I wonder how museums can work to strike a balance between preservation and growth. I also wonder how the idea of ‘plasticizing’ and ‘sanitizing’ can be reduced. Often, it seems that when something lies encased behind glass or velvet barricades, then it must be something of note and it must be something worthy of paying attention to. There seems to be a distance, hierarchy, and disconnect between the viewer and what is being viewed. How can this sense of hierarchy be reduced and allow audiences to feel more immersed in these spaces?

  • The evolution of museums

    The metaphor of metamorphosis is an apt lens to view museums through. From metamorphosis as “the visual aesthetic and structure of the early modern curiosity cabinet” (Bowry, 2014, p. 39) to the fluid nature of museums today, we can see museums as places and spaces responsive to cultural shifts in the time and place that they are situated. Bowry echoes this sentiment in the conclusion to her paper: “All claims to representation, and to knowledge, are constructed and situated–they only operate within a very precise context” (2014, p. 39). Similarly, Alexander and Alexander position museums as responsive, fluid, and ever-changing–seen from the start through the title of their book: Museums in Motion. In today’s context, we see conversations in the media about museums hint at the same sentiment. Both Shevenock (“Why Museums Weathered the Pandemic Better than Most–and Where They’re Headed Next”) and Wyld (“Are Museums on the Brink of Extinction After COVID-19?” ) turn to the idea of evolution when tackling questions of how museums have responded to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    There’s no doubt that museums have evolved over time, responding to the interests and needs of their communities. What is interesting to me today is the shift toward participatory engagement in museum spaces. As mentioned in Museums in Motion, John Kuo Wei Tchen asserts: “… museums and their exhibitions ‘must be done in tandem with the people the history is about… personal memory and testimony inform and are informed by historical context and scholarship’” (1994, p. 13). Tchen’s point continues conversations around how museums can best serve their communities and their audience(s), as we saw last week with Nina Simon. Though Simon touched more on how to engage visitors in participatory activities, Tchen goes further in making the case for participatory planning. As Alexander and Alexander mention, “We ‘museumify’ other cultures and our own past” (1994, p. 12). When engaging people whose lived experiences are represented in a museum or exhibition, we bring a richer experience to audiences. It seems as though many museums today, as part of their evolution, are grappling with questions of representation and inclusivity, responsive to many similar conversations seen in media and literature alike in the 21st century. Museums “exist for the things we put in them, and they change as each generation chooses how to see and use those things” (Alexander and Alexander, 1994, p. 12). It seems as though this generation is calling for museums to be responsive to the communities they serve–to be accessible, inclusive, diverse, and engaging. Though Shevenock and Wyld didn’t have a decisive answer on where museums are going next, they both agree that museums are ever-evolving and more essential than ever.

  • Reading comments (Candy Yuxin Xie)

    Assignment 2: Reading Comments

    What is a museum

    In “What is a museum,” it is interesting how museums not only display history, but they are also intricately tied to history. Historical events and social movements, for instance, can affect the ways in which museums function and revolutionize certain aspects of museums. For instance, the industrial revolution, while bringing about scientific developments, also caused issues like “high intensity lighting, central heating, and air pollution” that could potentially deteriorate the artifacts. As a response to these newly emerged problems, ways of preserving artifacts in the museum changed correspondingly, with better and more automated “control of lighting and humidity” as well as “ingenious repair.” I’ve also seen similar articles in the past regarding impacts of the civil rights movement on museums. The civil rights movement prompted museums to try to be more welcoming, especially to marginalized societal groups. Museums reevaluated their ways of presenting stories to the visitors in order to better promote diversity and inclusion.

    While museums have adapted to social and historical changes, it is also interesting how museums have always been preserved with great vigor regardless of how turbulent the society is and what ideals are in each era. As mentioned in “what is a museum,” museums were initially only intended for a very limited group of people with authority and served the pure purpose of storing and collecting objects. Many traditional things, like handwritten letters, are almost already discarded in the contemporary society, yet museums have always been present and are even more well-attended than in the past.

    Post-COVID, How Can Museums Remain Essential & How the Pandemic Changed Museums Forever

    After reading “Post-COVID, How Can Museums Remain Essential,” I was really interested by the idea of how museums could facilitate economic recovery. In my original review, museums are usually institutions that need funds to operate instead of serving as venues for generating money. After COVID, I saw that many department stores and restaurants that have been open for years before are forced to shut down due to lack of funds. Thus, it is surprising to me how museums, something I’ve always viewed as non-profit, could actually help the local economy reboost. Besides providing job openings, museums could also help support local businesses, as mentioned in the article. Visits to the communities where the museums are located could also help support local stores, restaurants, and transport. Also, I think the pandemic has in some way increased people’s desire to visit museums. During isolation at home, people have spent sufficient amount of time browsing social media and reading news on digital devices. Lack of real life contact with objects make people who do not usually go to museums want to have this experience as well.

    In “How the Pandemic Changed Museums Forever,” the author also puts forth a point regarding how museums help mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic. The pandemic keeps people separated from one another, enlarging their physical distance and cutting off their communications with each other. Yet museums and exhibitions online help bond people together and help them cross the physical barriers among them. While usually people only go to exhibitions in their local communities or when they are traveling, online exhibitions can be accessed by people from any place in the world at any time, reducing limitations on both time and location. Even when “the US-Mexico border was closed to all,” exhibitors’ messages could still be conveyed across those barriers.

  • Museums in Motion and in COVID

    Musuems in Motion

    The introduction to Museums in Motion was very informative in learning about how the concept of the museum has transformed throughout history. In particular, I was interested to learn about the museum of Alexandria from the classical world, centuries before the appearance of Wunderkammers, as well as the fact that there are modern day proponents for defining the museum as a “community of scholars.” The general public nowadays seems to associate the museum with artifacts or collections while a shift toward the museum as a community for education and research may feel like a more novel idea, yet a community-oriented museum is actually rooted deeply in history.

    An observation I made is that, based on the reading, the idea of the museum seems to have originated uniquely in the European world and was spread to countries like America only under strong influence of European culture. The quote “The modern museum … is a product of Renaissance humanism, eighteenth-century enlightenment and nineteenth-century democracy” further reinforces the idea that the museum is founded on Western values. This makes me wonder if other cultures have created a phenomenon like the museum throughout history. Nowadays there are institutions all over the world that follow this European model of the museum, but if there were no outside influence, would other cultures choose to display their artifacts or create spaces for contemplation and learning in the same way?

    Impact of COVID on Museums

    Visiting the MOMA in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I noticed that all door handles still had stickers that said “self-sanitizing” on them. While there are definitely still traces of the pandemic lingering in museums, most visitors I saw were not wearing masks, and museums seem to be moving on for the most part. One of the articles I read described how throughout the pandemic, visitors were consistently more comfortable visiting museums than other public spaces like amusement parks. When I saw this statistic, I was not surprised at all, in spite of the ways a museum might not be as safe, including being an indoor space. This might be attributed to the unique reputation that museums have among the public. Museums in Motion mentioned that the original meaning of the Latin word for museum referred to a temple, and although most museums now are secular, a sense of reverence for the museum seems to be preserved. Most people, upon entering museums, seem to adopt an innate sense of respect for one another and for other people’s stories. These bonds that are formed between strangers and between people and objects are powerful and may speak to why museums may have been able to rebound faster during a time when people sought out human connection more than ever. Even when physical museums were closed and many museums presented their projects and collections online, virtual visitor engagement skyrocketed perhaps because people could access a sense of community and empathy through experiencing other people’s stories online.

  • Museums and COVID-19

    One of the articles I chose was “Post-COVID, How Can Museums Remain Essential?”. It was interesting to read about how the pandemic prompted a period of reflection for institutions and individuals as they considered what social value they added according to the notion of “essentiality”. However, I think it is important to consider how this idea can transform and shift through time and how it is also quite subjective. What is ‘essential’ to one individual may not be essential to another. For some, a museum may act as a safe haven, a place for connection or even escape from oneself. For others, a museum may simply exist as a means for passive engagement and time-passing. I wonder how this range of individual needs was addressed during the pandemic. It is also interesting to think about the move towards digital hybridity in museums. This means that new tools and technologies are being used to “move beyond the doors of the museum”, and can also mean that the boundary between a home and an institution is blurred, shifting the perception of a museum from a physical entity to an ideological one. Post-pandemic, it is evident that there is a new appreciation for the ‘taste for the analog’, and ‘slow looking’ after these things have felt scarce during the peak of the pandemic. I wonder how the new wave of hybridity can simultaneously promote analog culture while attending to the move to a more technological-based society post-covid.

    The other article that peaked my interest was “Museums facing COVID-19 challenges remain engaged with communities”. What stuck out to me was how the article mentions museums as a place that “can bring us together”, especially in the midst of the pandemic. I find it interesting how this idea of ‘togetherness’ became more emphasized during the pandemic. While the traditional museum does seem to bring many people ‘together’ in a defined space, I question the extent to which they are effectively able to facilitate engaging interactions between different kinds of people. Pre-pandemic, it seemed as though many museums were primarily places for individual exploration, whereas they are currently shifting towards a more community-centered approach. It is also interesting to think about how the idea of engagement has become more prevalent after covid and museums are thinking more about ways in which audiences can become more active participants.

  • Assignment 2 - Museum History and Covid

    Museum’s Place in Society and Covid’s Push for A Virtual Integration

    What is a Museum

    It was fascinating to see that from the start, museums have often been seen as a place for discussion, education, and community, no matter if they were open to the public or acted more like private research institutions. They preserve the history of different societies while reflecting the societal focus during their times. What intrigued me the most was the constant shift between the museum acting as a place for priced collections versus a center for public engagements. I especially liked the quote from Arthur Parker, where he said that “museums that are not changing are in essence ‘dead institutions,’” and that they need to stay relevant to the changes in the world. Their functions change based on the needs and views of the people at the time, and their existence is ultimately serving what the generation of people chooses to see them as. The fact that the modern-day museums are reverting “back to the ancient forum” perhaps reflects our focus on building a connected society that promotes open discussion as well as a deeper link with the local community and history, that for our generation, communication and inclusivity are what we want our museums to entail.

    The Pandemic Changed Museums Forever (or Did It?) & How Will Covid-19 Change the Way Museums Are Built?

    Last class, there was a discussion about whether or not digital integrations are hurting the museum experience, and these two articles bring up their own solutions and answers. During the lockdown, the physical limitation put on museums forced them to come up with different ways of interacting with the community or simply to stay afloat, and when the only way to present exhibits is through virtual means, they were able to find success in the online world. The way how some individuals changed their minds about online exhibits after these endeavors were interesting to see, such as art historian Rika Hiro’s realization of the benefits of online gallery spaces. It shows that when used the right way, technology and the virtual world can provide a great way to supplement physical exhibitions and enrich the experiences, even for art museums where it seems controversial to include screens or online exhibitions. I hope that as we move further from the covid era, more museums are able to find engaging ways of using digital spaces to improve the museum experience instead of blindly following the trend of virtual integration.

  • assignment-2-aouyang

    What is a museum

    The article describes the different definitions and the evolving function of “the museum”, as well as the contribution of museums to culture and public education; however, one glaring neglection of the article is its failure to address the negative impacts of museums. The article mentions that “a commitment to community or social welfare have grown to be important aims for the museum in the last century”, but this brings attention to the limited definition of “social welfare”. The “social welfare” in this context only considers the welfare of the society the museum itself is in, as opposed to considering it from a broader viewpoint of humanity as a whole. The article does not acknowledge the type of cultural discontinuity as the result of objects being taken away from the countries and cultures which they originally belong to. The loss of artifacts and the resulting loss of identity can be damaging for a culture, and these culture are generally excluded from the mainstream discourse when we are considering “social welfare”. In the post colonial 21st century, one important question we should be asking ourselves is how to build museums ethically such that it does not built itself upon the exploitation of other cultures.

    How Will Covid 19 Change the Way Museums Are Built?

    This article describes some of the architectural and interior design decisions to be made to museums to minimize the chances of spreading diseases. One of the negative impacts of this might be that it makes museums more alienating and impersonal than they already are: a space with a more intimate feeling might be more attractive to the visitors. One examples the article mentions is a drive through Van Gogh exhibit of projections of paintings on walls, which honestly just feels like a consumerist farce.

    Why Museums Weathered the Pandemic Better Than Most — and Where They’re Headed Next

    I thought this article would be talking about how museums fare better in the pandemic financially because they aren’t designed to be profitable institutions who rely on traffic for survival, but instead it mostly focuses on how the consumers are more comfortable with going back to museums. It would be interesting to see an article describing the financial structure of museums and why it is valuable for museums to stay as funded, nonprofit institutions.

  • reading-2-tklouie

    Reading 2 Museums in Motion and COVID

    Museums in Motion

    One important point that Alexander and Alexander make in their book is the idea that museums initially had different roles as expected by different people. It has encompassed both the collection aspect and the forum- where people and intellectuals come gather. I believe this adds additional context to our discussion about a “new” museum structure that aims for more community involvement. Rather than a brand-new idea, it may be better to phrase this movement of museums towards community centers as simply once again changing its role to fit what is needed by the people. I am also interested in the last main idea brought up by the introduction: does a collection define a museum? As following our class discussion on Wednesday, does the “originality” or “singularity” of a physical object make the museum- or what else would it mean once that becomes digitized? I am currently leaning towards the value of the physicality, although not necessarily originality, of objects in the museum as it serves as a tangible space different from the digital experience.

    Covid and Museums

    The Smithsonian article on “Will Covid-19 Change the Way Museums are Built?” questions whether Covid-19 as a massive global pandemic, will change the way people interact with their built environment, and more specifically in museums. The article questions whether “6 feet”, open air, and touchless surfaces will become a permanent aspect of the museum experience. It also expands on digital interactions, yet cautions whether digital interactions will be able to replace the museum experience. Regardless, I believe that this article views museums in a very traditional exhibition manner and doesn’t account for the museum movement towards a community center. By designing museums to prevent crowding, they are also designing to move away from a community and people connection.

    The UNESCO May 2020 report on Museums in the Face of Covid 19 brought up an essential point about the digitization and increased access in museums throughout the world: essentially, that while most European and American museums were able to digitize their content with the pandemic, that is not true for all countries especially ones like in Africa and Small Island Developing States. This separation in digitization, and more specifically, the energy crisis continues to be a problem in South Africa where I went to recently to teach at. Loadshedding, periods of time on a daily basis where electricity to a specific zone is completely cut, happens throughout South Africa and affects our student’s learning experience. It additionally makes me question the supposed “accessibility” of digital content, where while it is comparatively more accessible then the singular object stored in a museum, it is only in a western perspective. Additionally, exhibits designed to be digital and require electricity, screens, or technology to be installed may be limited only to a Western American and European scope. I believe this report, brought on by COVID-19, is able to highlight a much deeper problem about the electrical and digital resources in museums around the world.

  • crinard-reading 2

    History of musuems & effect of covid.

    The history of museums

    It was interesting reading about the history of musuems; it seems in many ways coorelated with the rise of industry and increasing concentration of wealth (I suppose this makes sense, as the “collection” type of musuem which many people identify with today largely started as private collections, and it’s hard to collect, store, and exhibit objects (esp. signifigant ones) without having some wealth to go with it. I pulled some observations that seemed relevant to the notion of what a musuem’s purpose has been, and what it could be: Way to better understand self & culture: humanists saw museums as collections of items to better understand classical past and the world. Smithsonian was pure science institute for a while. “a museum of science . . . in essence a school; a museum of art in essence a temple.” Once the museum admitted the public, its exhibition function became predominant. Collecting, conservation, and research in the main supported the development of exhibitions Brooklyn Museum director Duncan Cameron published the notion that museums occupy two ends of a spectrum from a “temple” to a “forum” The value of the museum as a resort for popular entertainment must not be underrated. . . where every opportunity that is given to the people to employ their leisure time in healthy and stimulating surroundings. . . that counteracts the influence of the saloon and of the racetrack is of great social importance

    Musuems & Covid

    Many of the ideas in the first reading don’t seem particularly relevant to COID in particular, other than the fact that it gave time for reflection. The second reading uses a particular exhibit to showcase the effect that it could have had, but beyond that superficial observation it seems that the actual meat of both articles is how to interact in a digital only context. In the last few years, people have been moving more digital, and COVID seems to me to be an example of this taken to the extreme. The question of how to leverage technology to connect with people and better server the mission of the musuem is an interestion one thought ,and the second reading had some more thoughts on this: one that I enjoyed was the ability to send an anonomous message and have this included as if it were in person. I think that the idea of a “digital only” musuem aas discussed in the reading, however, is far outside what I would term as as musuem; it should be a place to showcase and reflect, and this is hard to do in virtual only. I also think that the discussion in the article of the increase of online viewership wasn’t necessarily due to people wanting to engage more with musuems, but rather exploriung the ends of the internet in frustration.

  • Session 2 Reading Response

    On participatory activities in modern day museums

    Something that each of these readings have brought to the forefront of my mind is outreach. Though it’s clear that some museums are making strides toward demystifying museum spaces and engaging in participatory experiences, I wonder how museums can successfully communicate to their desired audiences that they’re making strides toward participatory engagement. I think specifically of Simon’s preface to The Participatory Museum where she notes five common public sentiments of dissatisfaction: “Cultural institutions are irrelevant to my life. The institution never changes. The authoritative voice of the institution doesn’t include my view or give me context for understanding what’s presented. The institution is not a creative place where I can express myself. [And] the institution is not a comfortable social place” (p. iii-iv, 2010). In her TEDTalk, Simon mentions a number of really exciting opportunities for engagement that consider interactivity and ways to connect with self, others, and culture. However, while watching, I couldn’t help but wonder how outreach is conducted to spread awareness and push for involvement. I think that, for many, the idea of museums as capital-i Institutions is deeply entrenched, and for many marginalized identities is a lived reality that museums need to reckon with.

    Further, I wonder how voices of community members can influence and be a part of museum programming and engagement. Personally, I believe that early outreach is key, and early outreach is even more important. If museums are able to hook teen, or pre-teen, audiences, they may become lifelong museum goers and lovers. Because of their age demographic, teens are a great leverage point to interrupt the perception of museums as institutional, elite, non-representative or inclusive spaces.

    For museums to become “fourth places,” as Rozan proposes (p. 21, 2017), it’s critical to consider how best to hook new visitors and encourage disillusioned visitors to return. Though there is no clear and easy answer to this, Simon’s work of participatory engagement is a great start.

  • Reading 1: Opening The Museum and Lascaux IV

    Nina Simon: “The Participatory Museum” TED Talk 2010

    The TED Talk by Simon provoked several thoughts, but the overarching theme of her talk and also the opening of it was what drew me into art in the first place, and that is: we go to museums for the sake of connection. It is not only a mere visual process whereby the retina senses the light and the visual cortex percept the object, but it is also the way we connect with the object at the museum. The ability to stitch two or more things together in ways that the brain couldn’t have thought of before is alluring, inspiring, and in and of itself knowledge-producing. However, as Simon posited, most people (including many in my close circle) regard museums as prestigious spaces, where only certain types of people with specific characteristics are welcomed into these places, perhaps wearing haute couture, speaking the art language, or having assumed abilities in reading art and interpreting it. I’m curious to know where that stemmed from. The media has certainly played a pivotal role in portraying this image and projecting it to the general public.

    Museums should be for anyone with two cerebral hemispheres; this is the only requirement for museums. They do not require a certain background class, knowledge, status, or abilities. They are one of the safest places in the world to learn in and from, there is no right or wrong, only a connection with our inner selves, our humanness. Simon mentioned that museums allow people to connect with cultures so that they can connect on a deeper level with other human beings insofar as to enrich society on many fronts. This holds true, as the body of the literature shows that art increases empathy. It is through art that we learn about ourselves, others, and the world, then establish intricate and deep connections. Museums can offer all of that and more. I liked the various initiatives Simon elucidated to engage people at museums that excite all the senses, such as coffee beans, Posted, bottled craft materials, love letters, and many other absorbing activities that allow the visitor to embody the experience and be part of it instead of being a mere watcher. What I would like to investigate further are the reasons for the prevalent perception that museums exist to impose inclusion criteria, instill a sense of intimidation and unwelcomeness, and discourage people from using museums as a common space for gathering and cultivating themselves.

    At The Foot of The Hill: Museum Lascaux IV in France

    Caves possess a vital historicity, and the fact that Museum Lascaux IV integrated technology (part of the cave presented virtually, The Chamber of the Felines) in a place that has archaeological traces that date back to the Stone Age, for example, is tantalizing. From the Stone Age to the Tech Age, this is an allegory of human evolution and life in action.

    It was also remarkable to learn about the obstacles faced that led to conceiving Lascaux IV, such as the interpretation and deciphering of engravings. The Atelier of Lascaux has a fascinating concept whereby it ignites human curiosity, provides tools to inform the learning process, and at the same time solves the time constraint obstacle that in the first place led to the envisage and birth of this Atelier.

    Lastly, because caves are typically in a remote area (and in this case, it was “located at the foot of the hill,” as the article illustrated), I wonder whether this would be a factor that precludes locals from commuting to gather. Because caves are excellent for explorers, travelers, backpackers, and yes, even locals. If the museum is to be a social place, as Simon suggested, and replace bars or other gathering places, then this space has to be conveniently located for the locals, not just the one-time visitor or traveler.

  • Reading 1: On Nina Simon's Participatory Museum

    Nina Simon’s talk on participatory museums convinced me of just how far visitor engagement at museums can leave a lasting impact on visitors. The exhibits that she created entirely with visitor input are concepts that I’ve only seen being tentatively implemented in more traditional museums, but these experiences can often be more conducive to extending the impact of a museum beyond the visit.

    One main question that arose as I listened to the talk is how one might define a museum. Both the talk and the piece by Adam Rozan seem to suggest that as museums become more community facing, the lines between a museum and a library or a museum and a community center may blur. Later on in the talk, Simon partially answered my question as she describes how a museum uses objects, as opposed to perhaps books for libraries, as catalysts for conversations and social bridging. Yet as the purpose of these public spaces increasingly overlap, I still wonder whether there is some separating line. One main distinction that came to my mind is ownership. While libraries and community centers are funded and operated by the local government, most museums are privately owned. How this might play into the mission of a museum and how new ideas are implemented is something that I’ll be continuing to think about.

    I also wonder how Simon’s vision of museums integrating into the social fabric of communities might be accomplished for museums of different scales. Community initiatives may be more feasible and impactful at the local level while fostering social engagement with strangers may be more of a challenge in museums that host international demographics. I was very touched by Simon’s anecdote about an artist and his baby interacting with several young women, but I wondered whether this story could still happen if the two parties spoke different languages for example. This brings up a question of how technology or different exhibition designs can be tailored to connecting different audiences.

  • reading-1-tklouie

    Tiffany Louie

    The author of 2024 brings up the idea of the “third space”- an idea that I have found interesting, because of the fact that our current modern design in the world almost has depleted this from existing. In suburbia, no loitering signs and car based transport work against a place that is away from work and home. This means fewer community connections, so I find the idea that places traditionally restrictive adapting to become community centers as a “third or fourth place” very inspiring. I can see this come to play in some museums I recently visited- like the District 6th museum in Cape town South Africa serves as a community center for the previously displaced, and being relocated diverse District 6th community, or Robben Island in the Maximum Security Prison that held Nelson Mandela. These places- and I hope museums in the future- serve as education points for visitors, activists, and people in their own community.

  • Participatory Culture and Accessibility

    In Nina Simon’s TED Talk, “Opening Up the Museum,” she expresses a desire for museums to create a space for participatory culture. There are opportunities missed if museums are just spaces for looking at cultural objects and at each other, when people who go to museums should be actively engaging with cultural objects and each other. Though, there shouldn’t be a type of “people who go to museums”, but there are the types of people museums have historically been built for. These target audiences are intellectuals, experts in fine art, those who aren’t necessarily looking to be introduced to new cultural understandings but to expand on those they already have in place. Simon believes the target audience of a museum should really be everyone in the community.

    Museums are community spaces. Simon talked a lot about how exhibits and artifacts should promote communal learning and interpersonal connections. Briefly, Simon mentions that most museums don’t even have spaces for people to sit down and talk about the works. This is an important point: a museum as a community space goes beyond just the contents of the museum, but the structure of the museum itself. Museums should be accessible to everyone - at a minimum, this means more seating. Many museums have also begun to offer pay what you want programs and have certain nights a month when entrance is free. The MET lets New York State residents and tri-state area students pay what they wish, which is a prime example of accessibility and engagement with the local community. Simon promotes the museum as a communal space - everyone should feel as though they belong in that museum, and when they leave the museum, they should feel not only inspired to learn even more, but as if their own experiences are something worth learning about.

  • A criticism of the "Digital Push" - Andrew Stoddard

    Commentary on A. Rozan - Museums at 2040

    I was interested in the “Digital Push” that Rozan commented on in “Museums at 2040.” I believe that one of the main draws of a museum (at least for me personally) is seeing original copies of a work. Anyone can see the Mona Lisa on Google Images, but there is something special about seeing the real thing in person. You can carefully observe the brush strokes and the finer details of the work that just really can’t be replicated by a photo. You feel a deeper sense of connection with the artist by physically seeing the original work. I also believe that the uniqueness of art gives it some of its inherent value. This presents a complex issue - how to balance preserving the unique feeling of seeing an original work in person, while also working expand the accessibility of art and museums to everyone.

    Recently, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience came to Boston. While I did not personally go myself, I had friends go who were quite disappointed by it. It seemed like it was just simply projections of Van Gogh art on the walls for a steep ticket price. I think for a successful “digital push,” there needs to be a uniqueness factor. Technology needs to provide something that has a similar special feeling to seeing the work in person, while also making it more accessible. Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience did the opposite of this: making it more expensive and less unique.

    I do not personally agree with the “Digital Push” idea. In this article, I was much more interested in the concept of museums becoming hyper-local and allowing visitors to learn more about the places they are visiting. I think it is more likely that in the future technology augments, rather than replaces, the original objects that exist in museums.

  • The Complete Museum Experience - Opening up the Museum

    One area the video commented on that I found interesting was the relationship between the artifacts and the people who came to observe them, that the artifacts can act as a bridge between strangers. To create this bridge, Nina’s museum seems to be combining three seemingly distinct components of a museum, the museum’s exhibits, the interactivity of such exhibits, and the visitors who are interested in seeing them. Through maker spaces, people can directly engage with the theme of the museum, art and history in this case, while a clever design of the space and setup can stimulate social interactions. There seems to be an opportunity to create a complete experience that promotes engagement, learning, and socialization at the same time, at least for those who are willing to invest in all three aspects.

    I do wonder about the flexibility of a museum like the Santa Cruz Museum in terms of how it can serve all types of visitors effectively at the same time. If a visitor is not interested in the creative spaces or the social interactions, how can the exhibits themselves make up for the lack of those experiences? How difficult is it to strike a balance between these elements? How about people with different levels of background knowledge of the topic? I am interested to explore this idea further, but for now, from Nina’s description of the Santa Cruz Museum, I can see people, including museum staff and novel visitors, working together to create an experience that can be inclusive, engaging, and educational all at the same time.

  • Societal Influences or Designs Making People Open Up to Museums

    In Nina Simon’s TED talk, “Opening up the Museum,” she emphasizes the importance of museums in facilitating positive interactions among people and elaborates her ways of making museums more accessible and engaging for the visitors. Personally, as a frequent visitor to a variety of exhibitions in museums, I have witnessed the transformation in museum designs through the past few years. While when I was young, museum seemed to me as somewhere exciting yet sacred and unapproachable, I find museums nowadays to be increasingly intriguing because of the interactive activities, such as drawing games and attractive narratives, and the instructive guidance from museum workers that bring me closer to the artifacts inside. Therefore, I fully acknowledge Nina’s statement of museums being opened up for more people to get involved and have deeper and more personal conversations with others.

    However, besides the influence from innovations in the design and format of museums, I believe that the bigger social environment and globalization also play a critical role in bringing about this change in human engagement in museums. Nowadays, with the wide coverage of internet, the majority of people interact extensively with each other on social media. Many apps are even specifically designed for strangers to have an opportunity to connect and talk about contents that they would not converse about in real life. Thus, people in the new decade are more open to share their inner thoughts with strangers than before, putting down their vigilance around strangers. The same applies to people’s interactions in museums. Strangers can have meaningful conversations with one another in the museum not only because of the help and inspirations from the museum design, but also because of the fact that this is no longer an unusual incident according to the new social norm. Similarly, with globalization, people who were originally oblivious to news happening in the society and also their local communities now have the opportunity to be updated with daily changes around them. People are not only passive recipients of information, they are also active agents on the internet by commenting on social news and reacting to other people’s commentaries likewise. Therefore, people nowadays have more confidence in their opinions being valued and listened by others. Thus, in museums, people of the new era are willing to provide constructive feedbacks to the museums and share meaningful stories of themselves related to the artworks.

    While it is encouraging to see museums opening up to the public, one issue museum curators might face in this endeavor is how they could still maintain the scholarly and professional nature of museums. Finding the boundary between keeping the museums well respected and making them compelling and entertaining in the meantime could be difficult, as people might start going to museums solely to be entertained instead of to be educated.

  • Reading 1 - Museums in 2040

    It was exciting to read about the implications of technology in shaping museum culture in Rozan’s piece. He mentioned that digitization, virtual/augmented reality, etc. can impact the ways in which a museum operates and interacts with its own objects, artifacts, and community. It is interesting to consider how this “digital push” may help to untangle many deep-rooted ethical issues with traditional museums as cultural institutions. For instance, museums that have the potential to exhibit only virtual recreations based on digital scans of historic objects may be able to return the original items to the countries they were taken from, helping to unravel questions of ownership and colonialism. This consequently results in museums shifting their narratives and ideals from ‘big names and topics to personal stories and community histories’, shifting the role of a museum from having a ‘scholarly focus to a community one’. This transformation is conducive to encouraging community-building, and can have reverberations that extend beyond the realm of the museum and into facilitating positive interactions and change within a society.

    The shift towards a more ‘fluid, dynamic, community-centered institution’ can also aid in addressing questions of elitism and exclusivity that comes along with the ‘traditional’ museum. In a traditional museum setting, there may be a disparity that exists in the demographic of people that attend museums, specifically based on educational and socioeconomic background. It is intriguing to see how new community-centered approaches can promote inclusivity and become ‘open and accessible’. Overall, it seems that museums are undergoing exciting changes and will see more transformations in the future!

  • R1-crinard

    From the reading and attached video, it seems that the musuem in question is trying to rebrand what has been a stogy field into something that can reasonate with the broader population at a time where the nature of how humans interact with the world and particularly each other is changing at an incredible pace – the average person’s attention span is dramatically decreasing, and thanks largely to the internet, people expect to see content that’s tailored towards themselves.

    In the video, the curator mentions that their revenue dramatically increased, while the number of visitors seemed to be about 2x. I’m curious as to how they managed this.

    In some ways, this seems like a dangerous road to go down; a large appeal of musuems (as we currently understand it), is to showcase that which is truly exquisite, or at least relevant, while a lot of what goes on in the web is garbage, precisely because everyone is able to (and oftentimes incentivized to) participate with little friction. She discusses the differnece between design and tools, and I suppose that I like the idea of setting people up for success, almost like a makerspace to encourage people to make their own art; it does seem like a nice model to follow in today’s society.

  • On Continued Participation Outside the Museum Experience & Lascaux IV

    In Nina Simon’s writing on the participatory museum and the corresponding TED Talk, I was really drawn to how committed she was in the role of the museum as an active facilitator in getting people to interact with, learn from, try to understand, and connect with each other. I think it’s interesting that in the ~10+ years since her book and talk, it seems like museums have incorporated more and more participatory elements and are increasingly aware of this role in society.

    A personal story: at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in fall of 2021, I was absolutely moved by a work that invited you to leave (pin) an artifact of your own to contribute to the piece. And this just about front and center in the main gallery space. And to see all the things that people were leaving behind, from metro cards to baby photos to gambling receipts, and then for me to add my own piece to it where I felt like I was actively connecting with the pieces that I was placing my own artifact around; I feel like there is some social connectedness that Nina may be going for.

    I think about this experience often, and I feel that it was a really powerful interactive and participatory piece, and I wonder: how can this participatory work go beyond the walls of the museum, beyond the visiting experience, and into the world at large? This is something that Nina brought up as well in her TED Talk, and it does involve the paradigm shift of changing the role of the museum in people’s minds. My immediate thought was for science museums: they seem to create very actively participatory spaces; are those experiences extending outward into social impacts? How much can they do in that regard?

    On Lascaux IV, something that really struck me about how they approached the museum was the design of the digital visitor companion (CDV). To have each visitor wear the headset and carry around the unit is something I wasn’t expecting, and then for the unit to have all these technological capabilities: text, VR scanning, enhanced reality, cameras, a “lamp to detect engraving” is really amazing! I really want to go so that I can experience these elements. It’s remarkable how much effort and design went into the CDV so that the visitors can have a maximally understanding experience of the museum. It makes me wonder as well, in regards to the participatory museum, how the museum, if it’s a goal of theirs, to bring the learnings and takeaways beyond the walls of the experience.

  • Nina Simon's The Participatory Museum: Immersive Environment with Action-Driven Design

    The content I want to comment on is Nina Simon’s TED Talk on Participatory Museum. I resonate with her thought on implementing designed opportunities to encourage visitors’ contribution to the museum. Reflecting on my personal experience, there were many scenarios where I was eager to participate but discouraged by the fear of awkwardness in the public setting. Reasons behind this result include lack of structure, emphasis, and creativity in the way interactions are designed and practiced. For example, visitors are likely to walk away from an activity without enough instruction to avoid making mistakes; visitors might have concerns over sounding too serious in their responses; visitors can simply feel indifferent about the activities. Across all three situations, the failure to achieve a successful participatory experience all has to deal with how interactions are delivered, which can potentially be improved through technology, system, and human intervention. Similar to Nina’s point on using artifacts as social objects to connect people and bridge gaps, I believe that the key to successful delivery is fostering an immersive environment where participants feel safe, comfortable, and free to take actions and interact.

    As Nina showed in the video, a lot of the current participatory practices have to deal with interior decorations and installations with the target age group of children and teenagers. I am curious about how museum curators can continue to expand the scope of their prospective audience, potentially through the implementation of AR/VR technological devices. I am also wondering how the concept of participatory exercises can further extend to interacting the visitors with the existing artifacts, and how to maintain a balance between appreciating the original artwork and new transformations.

  • Museums in 2040 Response

    Rozan remarks that the evolution of museums in the 21st century will largely be out of necessity, due to the changing preferences of society it would no longer be financially feasible for museums to be mausoleums with outdated business models and a one-sided approach to community partnerships. To survive, museums had to reinvent themselves and become more accessible, socially responsible, and generally, just become civic institutions that take on a more flexible role than just curating and displaying exhibits.

    I found Rozan’s proposal of museums possibly becoming centers for learning to tackle problems such as unemployment to be particularly interesting. Rozan points out that without the everchanging modern job environment, the need for continual training in the workplace is rising, and I believe that this is true now more than ever with the rise of new tools like ChatGPT which can completely change the way many people go about their jobs. I also believe that museums are a good venue for this sort of continual learning because according to our exercise in class, many people felt like learning was already one of the main things happening at museums, so a shift to presenting some more employment-relevant learning could provide a lot of value to some communities.

  • Covid and museums- reading 1 - Livia

    I think the idea of using the museum (and various forms of media) like a dog, or an intermediary, is very interesting. I still don’t think I quite understand how to get that to work, though. A dog can be a bridge, but there is still a clear line being drawn between the people (at least in my experience). They don’t talk about much outside of the dog, nor is the person observing the dog quite curious about the person who owns the dog. How would a museum and its artifacts cross that line between people, especially as it feels like society is becoming more closed off as a collective because of technology/phones/lack of social interaction since covid?

    Things that I’m more skeptical of is how it seems like the readings and the video are all dated back before covid happened. Although I’m not totally sure how covid impacted the museum experience, I’m sure it did in a way that the readings/video did not anticipate. It would be interesting if we could get some readings on that? I feel like some of what was talked about may not be AS relevant to museums in modern-day because of covid, though I can definitely see more inclusive activities being added into the museum experience ever since.

  • Example Commentary

    Here’s an insightful response to the assigned readings from Week 1 - etc., etc. If you edit this post in Prose and click the Meta Data button, you’ll see it’s been given the Week 1 tag. Readings for other weeks will show up as available tags too, as we get further along.

    (By the way, here’s the url for downloading the open access edition of the book Digital_Humanities (PDF). It’s a very useful introduction to Digital Humanities: Open Access Version of “Digital_Humanities”)