Christensen, J. R. (2011). Four steps in the history of museum technologies and visitors’ digital participation (Summary)

In this article, Christensen traces the history of curation toward digital participation. They assert that exhibited objects are in dialogue with their surrounding paratexts. In this discussion, Christensen draws from examples of the Bode Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Dr. Johnson’s House to present four steps of museum technology history. The four steps refer to The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, which sold print reproductions to visitors; The post-photographic museum, which employs photography as a tool in curation; audio guides, and independent museum paratexts via digital and participatory forms. Christensen concludes that the significance of museum objects has shifted from being about their historical context to how they interact with modern times. This is important for both the archaeologists who first uncover materials, and the museums that display them to be aware of. When collecting data, archaeologists may choose to employ more interpretive methods. Providing a detailed archive of the data collection process allows institutions to reassess interpretations in the future, when visitor tastes change. I think another key point from this study is that visitors care more about experiences than learning. This means modern institutions will need to strike a balance between recreation and information, and learn how to market both to their visitors.

Christensen, J. R. (2011). Four steps in the history of museum technologies and visitors’ digital participation. MedieKultur: Journal of Media and Communication Research, 27(50), 23.

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