By Juan Reino
MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies, University of Manchester
Museums have always tried to facilitate interactivity with the visitor. During the past few years, the focus has been in using Digital technology. However, as research has shown the way that museums use it still can be improved (Vom Lehn et al, 2005).
The way that many museums use digital devices to provide interaction prioritises the individual and neglect collaboration, at the same time that displaces the interest of the visitor from the object to the electronic device. Being only able to be used by one person at a time not only stops collaboration and enquiry but also creates queues and potentially spoils other people’s experiences by showing them what the interaction is about before they are able to use it.
This fact might create an issue for museums since social interaction is an important part of visitors experiences. But even when museums bear this in mind doesn´t mean that they get it right. Sometimes, offering interaction may leave the individual visitor in a position in which they are not able to access the experience.
In an article written in 2005, Parry and Sawyer introduce the idea of the adaptive museum of which Amsterdam’s Eye Filmmuseum is a great example We might consider an adaptive museum that in which the digital media shape the way in which the physical space is designed.
In the 360 room of the Eye Filmmuseum, we find that there is no separation between the object and the media. The digital media becomes an end in itself and the museum uses a technique that is familiar to the visitor in their everyday lives without the barriers of the online world. The hardware disappears and the and the display becomes intuitive. Visitors can browse a selection of films from the museum’s collection from different pods each of them with a particular theme on it. The display fits individuals as well as groups facilitating social interaction by using big screens, built in speakers on the ceiling and providing enough space for the visitors to stand comfortably in the gallery.
One could possibly argue that the Eye Filmmuseum got it easy since the objects showing here are films. However, it is interesting to think in how the marriage of space and media remove barriers and facilitate the visitor experience, making it intuitive and fun, and thus more engaging.
Parry, R. (2005) “Space and The Machine: Architecture, Design, Exhibitions” From MacLeod, Suzanne, Reshaping museum space: architecture, design, exhibitions pp.39-52, London: Routledge
Von Lehn et al (2005) “Rethinking interactivity: Design for participation in museums and galleries” Retrieved on the 4/3/2017 from http://www.idc.ul.ie/museumworkshop/Papers/vom%20lehnetAl.pdf
Witcomb, A. () “The materiality of Virtual Technologies: A New Approach to Thinking about the Impact of Multimedia in Museums” in Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage. A Critical Discourse, ed by Fiona Cameron and Sarah Kerendine. Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, England: The MIT Press, pp. 35-48