The idea of a museum sounds outdated and old. It implies a level of age in its content just from the name. However, museums are hardly out of the loop when it comes to the digital age and technology. On the contrary, museums today use all kinds of tech advancements to engage with users and patrons like never before.
1- Social Media
First off, technology can and does help museums before guests even come through the front door. By engaging with people through social media, museums can get the word out to an audience unparalleled in size and scope. This can entail sending out pure advertisements for the museums itself. It can also be explanations of special exhibits or events going on that could draw a crowd that would ordinarily not know of or be interested in the normal museum offerings. Image and collection searches online also provide a sneak preview for things someone might want to check out once they attend. Finding new audiences is something that social media has made easier for everyone. All it take is an effective hashtag.
2- Wi-Fi and Apps
Because technology is such an ingrained part of our lives, though, it makes handheld screens and constant entertainment a competitor to museums, as the chief digital officer of the Met explained. What the Metropolitan Museum of Art is doing to combat this is using those screens for its benefit.
According to a MoMA study, at least 74 percent of museum visitors come in the doors with a mobile device on their person. The Met, and many other museums around the world, offer Wi-Fi and apps that add to visitors’ experiences. This is done through added information, floor and exhibit maps, getting questions answered, audio guides and the like. There is even the real possibility of incorporating games into one’s experience by testing their knowledge of what they have seen or what they will see.
3- Augmented Reality
Sree Sreenivasan of the Met even described the use of augmented reality. The way it works is by “[animating] a painting when he placed his iPhone in front of it.” It sounds simple even if the technology for it is anything but. Such devices and virtual reality will only add to what a museum can offer. The possibilities are nearly endless, with VR’s ability to transport a human someplace it could never physically go: to the bottom of the sea, inside organs, at the lip of a volcano, into scenes from history, etc.
A step beyond simple Wi-Fi connections or apps are beacons. These beacons can sense where someone is around the museum and supply that person with pertinent information. They would be sent as much information as they wished about a certain exhibit, from audio to videos to reviews; much more background than could ever be covered on a placard in-person.
“This could be taken to the next step in the future: having reviews, comments and concerns from live patrons affect or change decisions a museum makes,” said eBiz Solutions. Beacons can give people what they want more than any other thing that has ever existed in the business.
5- 3D Printing
Another way technology is adding to what museums can do for guests takes place beyond the guests’ immediate eye or ear. It involves 3D printing through curation. Rather than attempting to locate proper stands or frames for historic pieces, museums can now 3D print their own perfectly measured material. It makes for easier upkeep and holding of priceless artifacts. This may be something that goes completely unnoticed by the majority of visitors, but that is almost the idea. If a stand looks like it belongs with a 17th-century vase, all the better, even if it was printed in 2017.
The option also exists to 3D print replicas of artifacts themselves or even fix pieces that have broken off from old relics. The desired use of such technology may be up for debate, as it could take away from the genuine nature of museum offerings, but it is at least a distinct possibility in today’s world. There is seemingly no end to how technology can be used to improve what museums can offer their guests.