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Anthropology Archaeology Arts and Culture Digitization Museums

The History of Museum Technologies and Digital Participation

In their article, Four steps in the history of museum technologies and visitors’ digital participation, 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 museum technology history steps.

The four steps refer to print reproductions, photography, audio guides, and independent museum paratexts via digital and participatory forms. Christensen concludes that museum objects’ significance 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. 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 balance recreation and information and learn how to market both to their visitors.