Museums and Technology: Moving Forward into the Digital World

Added to Medium, January 24, 2019

Technology is continuing to be innovative, and museums do what they can to catch up with the latest to attract more visitors. Museum visitors have tons of access to technological items including but not limited to phones, computers, iPads, and laptops. There is also a number of technological advances that we don’t even realize we use on a regular basis such as radio frequency identification (RFID) found on E-Z Passes that help make commuting faster and non-humanoid robots. As our society makes technological advances, museum professionals need to educate themselves about what is out there for their own benefit and for the visitors they serve within their museums.

Museums have varying budgets and spaces available to use on technology. To take advantage of the ever changing technology, we need to figure out what interactive technology should be add to the museum and used by the visitors. There are advantages and challenges museums need to consider when integrating technology and interactive media. In American Alliance of Museums’ article “New Directions in Interactive Media for Museums” it stated that

The challenges of integrating interactive media into the museum experience are manifold. New technologies can engage but also potentially alienate museum visitors who have different cultural backgrounds and varying degrees of knowledge about the art form, history, and ideas involved. But at its best, interactive media that balances the creativity of right-brain thinking with the deductive logic of left-brain analysis can help with the intuitive discovery of unexpected connections and create newfound meaning.

As museum professionals, we should consider the advantages and challenges of incorporating interactive media in our museums and figure out how the technology will benefit potential visitors. Technology literacy is important for museum professionals not only to help visitors engage with programs, exhibits, and what else our museums have to offer but it is important for promotions and other important administrative work to keep our museums running.

The article “Museums and AI: Could Robots Be Your New Coworkers?” gave a couple of reasons why it is important for museum professionals should understand the landscape of Artificial Intelligence:

First, these corporate tools affect every patron of every museum, so ignorance of AI is poor business practice. Museum professionals can make exemplary exhibitions and labels, but without understanding the impact of AI systems on patrons accessing information, we could find ourselves with a dampened reach. Every moment, from the first awareness of the museum, to walking into the building, to likes on the patron’s Facebook post, is affected by AI.

If we remain ignorant of technology, museums will not be able to remain relevant in a changing society. Museum professionals should take the time to learn about how to utilize the available technology, and when we have professional development programs we should take advantage of learning from these programs as we move forward in museums’ futures.

Professional development opportunities not only help museum professionals learn about recent innovations but museum professionals also utilize new innovations to participate in professional development opportunities. For instance, there are podcasts about museums and historic sites from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH); they have recordings from past conference sessions and livestream current conference sessions. American Alliance of Museums has Museopunks, a podcast for the progressive museum. Each month, host Suse Anderson investigates the work and personalities in and around the museum sector. I will leave these questions up for discussion:

How do you feel about the digital world in the museum? Are we too dependent on technology or are we not taking enough advantage of it?

Resources:

https://www.aam-us.org/2019/01/11/interactive-media-for-museums/

https://soundcloud.com/aaslh-podcasts  

https://www.aam-us.org/programs/about-museums/museopunks/

https://hhethmon.com/2018/08/31/3-reasons-your-museum-should-start-a-podcast/

https://www.aam-us.org/2018/12/26/museums-and-ai-could-robots-be-your-new-coworkers/

https://www.geniusstuff.com/blogs/10-everyday-technologies-you-dont-realize-you-use.htm

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