How Culture Flirts With Technology

I must honestly admit—a few years ago, I wouldn’t link “museum” with “new technologies”. The turning point for me was when Ewelina Czechowicz, representing the MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków, delivered a presentation during the Social Media Day 2015 conference (congrats to the Publicon PR agency on the idea!).

The Kraków museum already uses beacons as a new way of navigating visitors around the exhibition. In 2015, the institution also implemented and launched tools for streaming content from social media, and, with the help of students — set up the MOCAK Cube application, which is based on a computer game and allows visitors for interaction with works of contemporary art.

Companies and cultural institutions are like their youngest recipients—millennials and the Generation Z cohort—who want to experience things at all costs. Digital solutions, therefore, are dictated by the expectations of these groups. What characterizes them?

– Multithreading, or the processing of several processes simultaneously;

– Mobility;

– Impatience;

– Instant culture (they want to have everything right away);

– Living here and now, enjoying the moment;

– Multiscreening, which is the phenomenon of dispersed perception

Let’s go further. A few days ago, I read an astounding article at the London Theatre’s official website about how the ticketing technology is about to change the way we go to the theatre. It briefly touches on how the rise of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin might affect the theatre trips of the future. In his article, Will Longman writes, “Soon enough, we’ll all be paying for theatre tickets with virtual money. How far in the future that will be, remains to be seen, but as the world learns to embrace these new technologies, theatre will have to keep up. Does that mean that soon we’ll be having our faces scanned by robot ushers?” It should definitely inspire a change in how we see things. (If you’re interested, I recommend reading the whole piece).

This is the technology of tomorrow. How do cultural institutions use it today? Here are some examples:

Oculus at the British Museum

This is a very interesting collaboration, in which the British Museum has partnered up with Oculus to launch a Virtual Reality tour through the its exhibition rooms, starting with the galleries of ancient Egyptian and Assyrian sculpture and Egyptian mummies.

High resolution 360-degree photography has been combined with additional forms of content, including audio commentary from the Museum’s curators and interactive 3D models of their most prominent objects.

The Warsaw Rising Museum

In collaboration with a museum digitization startup Moiseum, the Warsaw Rising Museum created an application called The Memory of the City, designed to save Warsaw’s monuments from oblivion and provide the opportunity to learn about the history of places distinguished by monuments, statues, or plaques commemorating the Warsaw Insurgents and the residents of the fighting capital. The collection of approximately 370 memorial sites of the Warsaw Uprising was captioned with short texts to describe this piece of Polish history and the fate of people living in occupied Warsaw.

The Brooklyn Museum: ASK mobile app

The Brooklyn Museum began using beacons in 2014. In May 2018, it paired them with the clever ASK mobile app to link visitors with on-site experts who answer questions about all the artworks in the galleries. Once the visitors have downloaded the app to their smartphones, they are able to ask questions about specific exhibits, get directions to other areas of interest, or have a chat about issues concerning any aspects of their on-site experience.

The Natural History Museum flirts with Google

The Natural History Museum in London has teamed up with Google to digitize over 300,000 exhibits, including fossils from dinosaurs and other archaic animals. In collaboration with Sky VR, later this year, the Museum is also launching a VR experience that combines interactive video game technology and TV documentary.

Can you think of some more examples? Perhaps you have visited a museum that is doing well in this field? 😊