A new interpretation of the traditional museum model is slowly emerging to give cultural institutions the freedom to meet their visitors halfway. This shift in museum thinking - Audience Engagement - is as radical as it is practical. Adam Reed Rozan, Director of Audience Engagement at the Worcester Art Museum, talks to fellow audience engagement pioneers about the future of museums and how they can be mindful of every opportunity to delight their audiences
From a demonstration sign lettered in magic marker on an unused pizza box to a simple place mat from a kosher McDonald’s in Buenos Aires, Esther Brumberg, Senior Curator at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City, on collecting material that documents modern Jewish life
Exploring the science of pain could be a tricky subject for a game. Ben Templeton of Thought Den on the process of the developing their new game - OUCH - for the Science Museum’s Antenna gallery with the help of schoolchildren
Google and the Web are changing the way we make meaning. And because the future of searching is on tablet and smart phone, Google knows not just what you’re looking for but where you are when you’re looking. We are starting to get news, information and advertising tailored to our location and likes. What does this mean for museums?
After €375 million and ten years of rebuilding, renovation and restoration, the Rijksmuseum will open its doors on Saturday 13 April 2013. Never before has a national museum undergone such a complete transformation of both its building and the presentation of its collection
Martijn Pronk, Head of Publications at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, on making 130,000 objects in their digital collection available online copyright-free
We have entered a digital age where notions of time, space, materiality and knowledge are profoundly modified. Agnes Alfandari, Director of Cultural Production and Digital Development, Musée du Louvre on what new technologies mean for museums
Museums have increasingly been joining the global movement for open data by opening up their databases, sharing their images and releasing their knowledge. Mia Ridge presents a brief history of open cultural data projects, explores some reasons why some data is relatively under-used and looks to the future of open cultural data
Kevin Bacon, Digital Development Officer at Brighton and Hove Royal Pavilion and Museums, and Rachel Coldicutt, Director of leading digital agency Caper, on developing an open data collections project
Louvre-Lens is an opportunity for the Louvre to rethink its vocation, consider its collections, step outside of its walls, and experiment. Henri Loyrette, President and Director of the Louvre Museum, on how the newly opened €150m outpost built in a post-industrial coal mining town is now the future of the Louvre
How can the museum itself become a living laboratory of innovation? Robert Stein, Deputy Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, on how to bootstrap innovation in museums
The Gallery of Lost Art is a beautiful and mesmerizing virtual exhibition that reconstructs the stories behind the loss of some of the world’s best-known and influential artworks. Produced by the Tate, in association with Channel 4, the project has been beautifully designed by digital studio ISO
Projecting the museum’s voice - by Jean-Yves Gallardo, Director of Communications, National Museum of Norway
The Scream by Edvard Munch is one of world’s most famous paintings and one of the National Museum of Norway’s biggest audience magnets. Without a doubt, The Scream is an iconic image of human nature’s profound need to express inner feelings. Unfortunately, however, several years of harsh debate and internal conflict have severely damaged the public image of the museum that owns it. Some critics have ironically suggested that there is no better metaphor for the museum’s state of mind than the emblematic Scream.
From the opening address by Dr David Fleming to the inaugural Federation of International Human Rights Museums conference in Liverpool 2010: I want to consider the changing role of museums, and in particular to look at the growth of their social responsibility. This has been manifested in a number of ways, worldwide: museums have become more relevant to more people as they have broadened their approach to dealing with history
Communities can become active citizens when a museum provides an avenue for ‘their voice’ to enter its space and provide a visitor with more than one perspective. Likewise by using different mediums a museum opens up multiple approaches to interpretation from different perspectives. Brett Mason, Director of Museums Wellington in New Zealand, on why the ‘ownership’ of perspective, and therefore authority, is an issue that museums are uniquely placed to consider and address
You have been asked to draft an audience development plan for your museum but where do you start? What issues do you need to consider, what data do you need to gather, what should the plan contain, what does it need to achieve? This article by Ben Gammon provides a quick guide to drafting such a document
There are many benefits of incorporating visitor contributions on a museum website. User-generated content encourages engagement. It is a powerful means of connecting visitors with the content and ideas in a museum. Gail Durbin, Head of V&A Online, on how to get started and what to look out for
At the end of the year, all provincial and State-run museums in China will open to the public free of charge. So China is bucking the trend. Free entry for all. In a country of 1.3 billion people! But at what cost? David Mentiply explores how mobile technology is taking off in China and how we, in the 'west', might learn. Could this be the end of the traditional, static, four-walled museum?
Mia Ridge is a fullitime PhD student working on crowdsourcing the digitisation and geo-location of historical materials. Mia is ex-Lead Web Developer for the Science Museum in London, past MSc student in human-computer interaction, and current Chair of the Museums Computer Group
The Web Design team first considered what software and server should be used to make the website as future-proof as possible. We wanted flexibility to update the site as new information becomes available. From the Museum point of view, the principle issues were how to organise a huge body of data and images to create a fully functional identification tool
Founded just over a year ago, we’re a team of Googlers building tools for the cultural sector. Our partners are the institutions that are the guardians of our culture, and all ownership in the material stays with them. Our platform allows our partners to create their own digital experiences under their own brand.
The message is the thing, not the medium. In the future the ‘Digital Agenda’ will be the Agenda, ‘Digital Culture’ simply Culture. Nick Poole, CEO of the Collections Trust, on what comes next...
The Museum as Distributed Network - essay by Nancy Proctor, Head of Mobile Strategy & Initiatives, Smithsonian
Today museums report up to 10 times the number of visitors to their websites that they get to their buildings, and online interactions with the museum now include social media sites – e.g. Facebook pages, Flickr groups, YouTube channels, blogs and Twitter streams – as well as digital content that is not authored or even sanctioned by the museum. So the museum experience can now be said to extend well beyond the platforms museums control
Augmented Reality (AR) is a hot topic in the museum community. It is a frequently used buzz word in conferences and meeting rooms. It is widely discussed, but not well understood. Since that original debate, several museums have tackled the challenge of creating AR applications that deliver value for museum visitors
In issue 10 of Museum/iD we wrote about how we have been exploring games as a means of engaging worldwide audiences with Wellcome Collection themes and content, and evaluating our High Tea game to understand the kind of engagement that it offered. This year we have shifted our focus from the broad stage of imperial history to the microscopic environment of the growing human brain
Linda Duke - Director of Audience Engagement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art - talks to Museum Identity magazine about why museums are the perfect place to encourage people to develop open, creative ways of thinking...
Sustainability: integrated operations, programs, exhibits and outreach - essay by Aaron Pope, California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences views sustainability as a journey, more than a destination. There is no such thing as a perfectly sustainable museum. All institutions have an environmental impact, and are forced to balance their resource usage with their core mission and visitor needs. At the Academy that means questioning what is possible, trying out innovative ideas, and being committed to constant improvement
Sex in the Museum - Building Relationships and Pushing Boundaries - essay by Lisa Junkin, Hull-House Museum, Chicago
We’ve really done it this time. We brought pornography into the 19th Century historic house museum. And not 19th Century pornography, though of course, we’re fans of that as well. No, this time we brought the real thing, hardcore: dildos, whips, vulvas, cocks of every shape, size, and color, and put it all up on the big screen for the public to view. Call it the dream of a mischievous museum worker. Or, call it a successful outreach plan. By Lisa Junkin, Education Coordinator, Hull-House Museum
Audiences now expect on-line engagement and opportunities to interact and co-produce. Roy Clare, Director of Auckland Museum in New Zealand, examines how the rapid rise of digital and the spread of the political principles of social democracy mean the range of museum audiences and the scope of their expectations have changed substantially
Matt Woodward of Antenna International discusses the production of Turner Contemporary’s audiovisual guide for their unique Tracey Emin exhibition: "To maximize this experience, we really wanted to avoid too much ‘digital noise’, where the guide overwhelms the experience instead of simply enhancing it. So we pared away as much extraneous content as we could and enhanced the core to let Tracey’s voice shine through. Being random access, we also designed it to allow the visitor to view each of the main galleries as a discrete place, guiding them through the different forms of the exhibition. That way, they can have their own individual experience, but one that is rich with information"
In issue 10 of Museum Identity we published a series of short essays by leading museum voices around the world about the future of museums. We were delighted when Elizabeth Merritt, Founding Director of the American Association of Museums’s Center for the Future of Museums, picked them up and provided a thoughtful and insightful analysis. Key themes included: Personalization of content; Engagement in contemporary social and environmental issues; Increased audience participation through social networks and crowdsourcing; Adaption to the expectations of the “born digital” generations; and a backlash against multi-tasking and über-connectivity, causing a renewed appreciation of the “real” and quiet contemplation
Delivering Digital: Designing the largest digital media project yet undertaken by a museum. Interview with Alex Morrison of Cogapp
Alex Morrison of cogapp talks to Museum Identity about user-centred design, digital strategy, better web delivery across devices, and why technology should be like George Orwell’s attitude to prose. Plus designing the Metropolitan Museum’s new website. With 341,388 items in the online collection possibly the largest digital media project yet undertaken by a single museum
Robert J. Stein, Deputy Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, on the strengths of the museum technology community, riding the spin cycle of technology and why technology is a catalyst for change in museums
Seb Chan is Director of Digital & Emerging Media, Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, NYC. Until November 2011, he led the Digital, Social and Emerging Technologies department at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. He also writes the popular and influential Fresh+New blog. Seb Chan will be speaking at Museum Ideas 2012 - here we take the opportunity to ask him about his new job and where digital is heading...
Weeksville Heritage Center (WHC) is based on a history of self-determination. As a history museum, interpreting free black presence in Brooklyn, New York in the 19th century, the perspective of seizing one’s own liberation drives WHC’s approach to unexpected and irreverent research and programming
Nick Poole argues that the past decade of progress in museums has seen an assault on curatorship from numerous angles all at once. And the risk of not having access to ‘old school’ curators is that museums will gradually stop moving forward. So, without returning to the past hegemony of the curator, what's the alternative?
In a special series of exclusive interviews exploring innovative museum practice Gregory Chamberlain talks to alternative museum thinkers about their work and the future of museums
What will museums be like in the future? Short essay collection by museum leaders and innovators from around the world
In issue 10 of Museum Identity magazine we invited museum leaders and innovators from around the world to explore the future of museums. We received a tremendous response. Here are some of the highlights which illustrate the clarity of vision and purpose within the museums sector...
Janet Carding - new director and CEO of the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada - talks to Museum Identity magazine about her new role, what she intends her legacy to be, why she is still optimistic about the future of museums - and her advice for those joining the museums sector now...
Making a good museum game means serious collaboration between game-makers and curators. Danny Birchall and Martha Henson of the Wellcome Trust on how to develop engaging games for a discerning audience...
A Naturally Compelling Future for Museums: Sharon Ament, Director of Public Engagement at the Natural History Museum, London, on why museums have a vital role to play in the future of the planet
Victoria Pomery on creating a gallery that doesn’t compromise on quality and which welcomes audiences from all walks of life
By Dr Victoria Dickenson, Chief Knowledge Officer, Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Exclusive free chapter from our new book: The Radical Museum: democracy, dialogue & debate
How do you incorporate digital media into the marketing and communication strategy? By Peter Skogh, National Museums of World Culture, Sweden. Exclusive free chapter from our new book: Museum Public: audience development, brand identity and marketing strategies
What Museums Need to Understand for the Future. By Adam Reed Rozan, Marketing Manager, Oakland Museum of California. Exclusive free chapter from our new book: Museums Forward: social media and the web
Linda Duke - Director of Audience Engagement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art - on Aesthetic Thought. Exclusive free chapter from our new book: Museum Learning: knowledge, ideas and inspiration
Storytelling is a powerful technique that we need to embrace yet use judiciously. An exclusive free chapter from our new book: Museum Narrative & Storytelling: engaging visitors, empowering discovery and igniting debate
The potential collections have is hugely powerful. But it's not collections alone that define a museum's uniqueness or idenity. Exclusive free chapter from our new book: Museums and Meaning: idiosyncrasy, individuality and identity
Only through the constancy of fresh interpretation and the ongoing communication of a sense of the infinite possibilities our collections can inspire will museums captivate the creative spirit of its visitors
Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum, discusses the fundamental union between museums and the political landscape and focuses on whether it truly is possible to create a museum which is not only accessible and inclusive but relevant to the needs of society
A time will come when ‘e-learning’ is embedded in museum practice. Exclusive free chapter from our new book: Interactive Galleries: digital technology, handheld interpretation and online experiences
Caroline Marcus, Access Officer at The National Gallery in London, explains how a special event for two hundred older visitors and volunteer facilitators aimed to highlight existing inclusive practice and recent new developments and initiatives in the area of accessibility.
Some museum exhibitions are brilliantly conceived but fall down on a disastrous flaw that could have been avoided through close consultation with the target audience. Discover how to capitalise on user groups when planning exhibitions and interpretation.
A new National Museum Wales exhibition attempts to move beyond the traditional archaeological narrative to draw out contemporary messages. And as National Museum Wales is a learning organisation, it is committed to the evaluation of all its exhibitions. Here Melanie Youngs, Steve Burrow and Philippa Diment report on their findings
House of Terror - A Budapest museum remembers the tyrannies of the Nazi party and the Soviet-backed secret police. Review by Jan Lorenc – President & Design Director, Lorenc+Yoo Design, and Richard Lorenc - Director of Outreach, Illinois Policy Institute