Interactive museums include the display of objects and the addition of digital systems that allow visitors to have direct involvement. The digital systems serve several purposes, including learning and communication. Among the tools used in interactive museums include VR, multi-touch tables, haptics displays, to mention a few. In the recent past, museums have drifted towards interaction with their customers as a way of improving the experience. The change has also been part of creating a learning process. The role of the staff, particularly the curators, has also changed from a passive one to where they look at ways of helping the visitors learn. On the other hand, traditional museums had a different form of an exhibition in that the interaction with the viewers was minimal. On many occasions, the curators took a distant role, and any interaction happened at the probing of the visitors. The current paper explores the role of museums in learning and the changes from traditional to interactive museums. The present paper also explores the new role of curators in interactive museums with a focus on Boston Children Museums and the Boston Science Museum.
Museums serve a critical role in the preservation of artifacts. The artifacts are essential in the learning process. Additionally, conventional museums were of interest to researchers. Over time, the role has evolved to include that of entertainment for the whole family, children included (Coleman n.p).
Children museums took the lead in the levels of engagement. It is easy to have the attention of children grabbed and thus the need to have engaging activities. Although the target is for a general audience, museums have always been a centre of attraction for children. Due to their nature, it was necessary to have something that would captivate their minds. The engagement they get solved the issue. The idea of interactive museums took place, and it proved to be educational (Coleman n.p). Consequently, it was adopted by the conventional museums which were for education and entertainment.
In place of the traditional forms where the visitor had to watch and maybe read a stand, interactive museums offer a more engaging role. Interactive museums capitalize on technology to ensure that there is full participation. The use of audios is an example of how they engage visitors. The audio available at some stands have any information about the exhibit. Additionally, the visitor may select what they want to listen. It is also possible to replay any of the recorded messages. Therefore, it gets easy to learn all about a particular exhibit. In the video format of the same, there is the visual backing of the audio.
It makes illustrations which are necessary to keep the listener attentive. At some of the exhibits available, the visitor has access to touch screen televisions where the engagement is quite high. The listing of all information on the exhibit allows the visitor to select any area of interest. Some of the museums offer services where the visitors become a part of the process. The Museum of Moving Image is an example where visitors record their voices while reading quotes of some of the famous people.
In the past, the International Spy Museum has allowed visitors to participate in some actions where they act as spies. Similarly, the New-York Historical Society has features that allow the visitor to tilt the exhibits seen on the screen to a view from any angle. Changes in the exhibit and the engagement have brought new experiences which may explain the surge in the number of visitors. At the same time, it is possible to learn while feeling as being part of the process.
Boston Children Museum
It boasts for being among the oldest children museums in the United States. Founded in 1909, the primary purpose was to aid in the learning of children (Babcock, Elizabeth and Ann 631). The mission is to engage young ones with experiences that they enjoy as they discover the world. Further, it has the vision of nurturing creativity in young ones while promoting their healthy development. Although the target has been children, the audience has evolved to involve visitors of different ages. The parents accompany their children while young adults find it a learning experience. Therefore, the audience is no longer restricted to children but are now people of all ages.
Over the years, it remains faithful to its original purpose of educating children. The permanent exhibit has some of the features that remain a magnet of attraction for children and their families. The Author and Friends are in this category, and it allows children to watch and read books by Marc Brown. The learning on this exhibit includes plays where the children take part, thus enhancing the experience. The art studio is another exhibit where children participate in the creation of art with their families. The section has guides who direct and teach children on different forms of art where they create anything of their choice.
As part of promoting peaceful co-existence and diversity, the Museum has the Boston Black exhibit. It involves the process of learning on the black community in the state and the role they have had. Additionally, the cross-race mixing and exchange of cultures have had a critical role in the elimination of color boundaries in the state (Nichols 23). Children may visit barbers and have their hair done like that of the blacks. The exhibit also offers rides and carnival floats where the children get active.
Another fascinating exhibit is that of the countdown to the kindergarten. Parents and kids alike get to learn about the classroom experience. The parents are free to ask any questions since there are teachers on standby to address them. It acts as an orientation to children who are about to join kindergarten. Further, there is also the explore Saurus exhibit, which is an inspiration to the kids. The children are invited to take the part of scientists where they study dinosaurs.
Close to the KEVA planks introduces the younglings on solving problems using mathematical concepts. At Johnny's Workbench, the kids have access to hand tools which they learn to use under the supervision of the staff in the Museum. The play space is a show of real dedication to children, where only those below three years are allowed. Several activities are arranged that match their age. It also has the crawl only where material soft enough for the kids to lie and move about on is available.
Museum of Science-Boston
The Museum dates back to 1830 and was founded by common minded people who sought a forum to share scientific knowledge. The Museum has undergone many changes to get where it is today. The promotion of active citizenship is the primary mission of the Museum. It uses science and technology to achieve that end. More so, it seeks to inspire appreciation of science and technology in young people as well as promote the culture of exploration. In 2013, the Museum underwent a significant upgrade to allow the development of interactive activities. The changes made to the Museum have been towards the enhancement of education.
The blue wing is one of the exhibition halls, and it has several features. The butterfly garden has different species which allows people interest in botany to have a close experience. Mathematica is another room under the blue wing where numbers are illustrated. Visitors are challenged to work out some of them, and they interact with the real-time screens as they get solutions. The theatre of electricity is another crucial stand. On display include fascinating electrical apparatus and a demonstration of artificial lightning. The open-air generator is also to be found in this exhibit with live demonstrations of how it works (Ciaramitaro and Hiu-Mei). Innovative Engineers is also a stand that has biographies of inventors from Boston and their achievements.
The Green Wing is another stand that focuses on life. The hall of human life has features and interactive forums dedicated to human biology. The interactive forum allows visitors to rotate the images of the human images on the screen and point to areas of interest. For example, by pointing to the liver, information about the human liver appears on the screen. Further, there is specification in different areas of interests, such as diseases (Gwosdow and Alissa 749). The habitats of New England are also to be found in this hall.
The Museum also has a section dedicated to children. The children discovery centre is a uses real objects and tools to aid the children in learning. It accommodates young children but on the accompaniment of their children. The features in this section vary from science and technology to history.
Charles Hayden planetarium is a digital theatre in the Museum where the visitors learn about the universe. The many programs available help to understand the most current discoveries about the universe. As an enhancement to interactions with the visitors, visitors are treated to immersive music sessions on selected days. Additionally, in all these shows, state of the art sound is utilized, which increase the experience of the visitors.
In the traditional setting of a museum, the curator had a hands-on role where he took part in answering some of the questions. Although some of the roles remain unchanged, the interactive Museum has had changes on the duties of a curator. The collection of objects and artifacts remain a critical role of the curators (Grande n.p). Further, they oversee the preservation of the objects. The presentation also falls within the duty of the curator. In the interactive process, the curator works with the IT team to make a presentation of the same.
Museums have been places of research. Many of the artifacts have a history and a listing as to why they get preserved. Curators act as the lead in the research teams that involve these projects (Nielsen 442). Similarly, the education programs keep on evolving to match the ever-changing demands. The curators help in the writing of the programs and oversee the presentations. At the same time, they look at the impact they have as a follow-up. The curators also have the role of appraising different programs. In addition to leveraging on technology to learn where to make improvements, curators have the role of interacting with the visitors where they establish such areas. They also study the programs and research on areas that need changes.
Museums are run like organizations where they have to attract visitors. Curators form part of the marketing teams. They aid in the generation of content which is used in the marketing efforts. Additionally, they participate in the marketing process through various programs. Further, museums liaise with other similar organization where they buy and sell some products (Shannon 173). In some cases, there is the borrowing of artifacts which is later taken back. The curators have the role of authorizing such transactions.
Each Museum has a database for the artifacts and different objects. As part of the safekeeping, curators manage the database (Wright and Alana 18). They check the database periodically to ensure it is in good shape. At the same time, they participate in the process of making updates of the database. Some museums are not-for-profit organizations, and the charges they have may be insufficient. Therefore, they require funding through grants which enable research and expansion programs. Curators have the duty of sourcing the funds and grants to facilitate programs.
The traditional museums had the curators as the interaction between visitors and the objects in the museums. Changes have forced the increment of the roles that they hold. For example, being an IT researcher has become one since technology...
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