As we ready ourselves for 2018, we reflect on 2017. We have worked in diverse communities such as Iceland, Texas, Halifax, Montreal, and California. We have proudly served local projects such as Science World’s Made in Canada exhibition, the BC Children’s Hospital Virtual Aquarium, and the Nikkei National Museum’s Virtual Museum project. We have won five international awards including the National Association of Interpretation for Craigdarroch Castle. We have spoken at six conferences and were published in Lord Cultural Resources‘ book on Planning the Digital Museum. We’ve compiled a retrospective of the trends that are influencing the GLAM industry (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums). *This article was originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of Roundup, the BC Museums Association quarterly magazine.
1. Moving collections online
Museums are sharing their collections online, rather than saving them only for onsite visitors. This broadens the geographic reach of the collection, as well as the reach to even local visitors who may not enter the walls of the museum. Dialogue has evolved past seeing online collection as competition to onsite visit.
2. Accessing the full collection via digital
On site, museums are providing access to their full collection, rather than only a curated subset, via digital exhibits. This provides a more open-ended experience, for the visitor to discover the artefacts for themselves, rather than a prescribed path.
3. Moving visitor experience outside walls
Museums are also providing visitor experiences related to their mandate – through mobile apps and storytelling websites – that extend their reach beyond their walls.
Some museums are embracing smartphone technology to deliver a new kind of museum experience. This approach also lessons the operational burden on the museum, since the hardware is owned by the visitor.
5. Representation from marginalized communities
Opening up space for stories, artists, and ideas from the periphery, marginalized, forgotten voices, and under represented. Alternate worldviews being presented in Museum discourse as an ethical space of engagement.
6. The role of the museum
There’s a shift back to museum spaces as a place of connection and trust as a cultural authority within a public institution. Collections can now be co-curated by the community.
7. Libraries as community gathering places
Libraries are being redesigned as a social community hub for temporary exhibitions, speaking events, access to technology labs.
8. Exhibits designed around emotion rather than information
Museums are utilizing immersive experiences, delivered through virtual reality and augmented reality, to create an emotional response in visitors. This approach relies on affective over cognitive learning outcomes.
9. Changing conversations regarding technology
Through Natural User Interfaces (such as gesture control) and wearables (Such as VR), the focus of the experience is on the story not the screen. The Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling personalized and smarter experiences through connections between everyday objects and our environments. Big Data is being harnessed to better understand visitor patterns across institutions. All of these changes together are indicating a shift in conversations towards embracing the potential of technology, while still being mindful of operational impacts.
10. Old is new again
Museums are rediscovering audio tours as a way to deliver a more meaningful personalized subset of a museum or exhibition, based on time, interests, and personality. The audio tours can be delivered via mobile devices – and be integrated with location aware sensors.
2. Cleveland Art Gallery Artlens Wall
3. Warsaw Rising Storytelling Website
4. Brooklyn Art Museum ASK App
5. The Royal BC Museum’s Curious Quarterly
6. People Trust Museums More Than Newspapers
7. No More Silence in the Library
8. Lockheed Martin Fieldtrip to Mars
9. Cooper Hewitt’s Pen
10. SF MOMA Audio Tour App
– Jessica Doig, Vice President & Executive Producer