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Museums Beyond the Web: How Technology is Revolutionizing the Museum Experience
Date:2014-10-8   Views:1069

A new conference is asking an important question about the museum experience: When will technology trends for museums start moving “beyond the web?” The hottest museum technology buzzwords are “online,” “digital,” and “web-based technology.” But innovative companies are looking beyond these areas which are becoming highly saturated and not always living up to the hype. Wearable technology, the internet of things, and other trends are offering new avenues to reimagine the role of technology in the museum environment.

In the last few years, curators have begun integrating digital technology into their exhibits. Often, this involves creating enhanced experiences for visitors with touch screens, scannable QR codes or comprehensive audio guides. Visitors use their smartphones or tablets to access exclusive exhibit features, moving beyond the traditional museum experience. Guides give background information on specific artifacts or connect users with custom content such as video interviews. But there’s a wealth of latent opportunity here that has yet to be explored. The Museums Beyond the Web conference brings together practitioners from around the world to address some of these important themes and answer the question “what’s next?”

The UK Museums on the Web group launched their annual conference in 2008.The conference built on the success of previous events which focused on how practitioners could use web-based technology to enhance their exhibits. As smartphones and wearable devices have become intricately integrated into our lives, the conference has evolved to explore mobile themes. This years’ event will be held on Friday, November 7th, at London’s Natural History Museum. Museum staff and technology enthusiasts will gather to learn about and discuss how they can use mobile devices to form deeper connections with museum visitors and local communities.

The 2014 conference is focused on using the latest mobile technologies to not only enhance the museum experience for visitors, but to actually engage with people around the world. The program pulls together some of the most brilliant minds in digital technology. Alex Butterworth of Oxford has been invited to discuss his Box of Delights mobile application, an app that has the potential to completely revolutionize museum visits. Box of Delights relies on geo-location technology to create a narrative experience for its users. The unique application uses non-linear storytelling to engage visitors and residents of London in the city’s cultural history.

Also on the program for this year are representatives from the Buxton Museum and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery. Martha Henson, Ros Westwood and Ben Bedwell of Buxton have been invited to discuss their solution for creating unique, digital experiences using a limited budget. Rick Lawrence of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery will explore strategies for delivering mobile experiences in areas where connectivity is limited. This year’s conference also explores how museums can use Apple’s iBeacon technology, as well as wearables like Google Glass, to communicate with the community at large.

The thought-provoking event helps museum professionals explore new ways of using mobile to reach a broader audience. Whether this means using mobile applications, integrating web-based technology on a limited budget, or connecting with a global audience in areas where connectivity is limited, the creative themes help practitioners think outside the box in terms of their digital strategies.
We’re excited to see a group of museum professionals asking these tough questions. While integrating web-based technology offers visitors a richer experience, in many cases efforts fall flat. Apps don’t capture the potential of mobile devices, or rely too heavily on the user to make meaningful connections with exhibits. The development of new technologies that are using geolocation capabilities, wearable platforms, and non-linear storytelling could be a game changer. The next generation of digital experiences should integrate with theming and curation techniques to elevate how we’re seeing the museum environment.

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Fax:020-38900441
E-mail:wpupark@163.com
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