Project Idea - Open dialogue between all members of a museum community

Issue being addressed:

One of the issues I am interested to explore is the sense of hierarchy that is often created between the curator and visitor. I am curious about ways in which this distance can be reduced by having a more active and open dialogue between visitors and museum professionals. This distance also exists not only between the curator and visitor, but also between the curator and the artist/scientist/collaborator/etc for the exhibition being created. As we heard from Gary Van Zante of the MIT museum, there is often a sense of dilution that occurs in the process of crafting an exhibition. This is an issue that I have also encountered at the ICA, where it is often difficult to be able to convey an artist’s voice and vision in the purest way possible while also trying to balance this with the curator’s voice. I wonder how much of a collaborator’s voice is often lost within exhibitions. I want to create a platform that encourages transparency and creates a more open dialogue between visitors, artists/scientists/etc, and curators/museum professionals. I want to focus on reducing the sense of distance and dilution that is created within the process of putting together exhibitions by having a platform which allows museum collaborators like artists and scientists to share their voice directly with visitors, while also allowing visitors to interact and engage with each other’s opinions to foster a sense of community. Overall, I want to create a stronger sense of transparency and active dialogue between all members of a museum community.

Envisioned audience:

The envisioned audience includes all members of a museum community. The platform I am envisioning will encourage open discussion between curators, collaborators, and visitors. I am also thinking about ways in which conversations can be streamlined to make the experience as meaningful as possible to all demographics. For instance, having a separate section within an application for children to engage in conversation with other children about their interpretations of an artwork/artifact/exhibit/etc within a museum.

Potential Museum Collaborators:

I am interested in collaborating with the ICA. The “contemporary” nature of the museum means that the focus is more on the present than the past. I think that this doesn’t only apply to the kinds of works being presented and exhibited, but also within their approach to crafting museum experiences. I think that the ICA is also of interest to me because they work on reducing the sense of distance between collaborator and curator by providing “innovative experiential learning opportunities for people of all ages through direct encounters with artists and art-making” (as stated in their mission statement). It will also be accessible for me to conduct research with the ICA as I already work there.

Technological approach:

I am interested in prototyping a mobile app that will serve as a platform for more open discussion between all members of a museum community. This platform will allow collaborators to engage directly with artists, curators, as well as other visitors. For instance, users will be able to select one of the artifacts they are viewing, view supplemental media directly from the artist or collaborator of that artifact, read other visitor’s comments and interpretations, and also make their own comments. This will encourage a more deeper engagement with exhibits, while also allowing visitors to learn from a multitude of perspectives and expand their mindsets.

Skill Set:

The skills needed for this project are mainly design, prototyping, and knowledge of UI/UX processes (conducting user research, creating wireframes, low/high fidelity prototypes, etc).