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    Exploring the Digital Museum

    Dr. Ana Sanchez Laws

    Associate Professor

    Faculty of Arts and Physical Education

    Volda University College

  • +A tectonic shift?

    Once a visitor carries a fully

    searchable encyclopaedia in their

    pocket (not to mention access to

    all our collection including the

    objects not on display), the whole

    idea of a museum and how it

    could and should be designed

    changes In my view these are

    long term tectonic shifts in the

    move from 'collections to

    services'. (Chan 2011)

    Seb Chan / Fresh+New blog

  • +Digital Heritage

    Resources of human knowledge or expression are increasingly created digitally, or converted into digital form from existing analogue resources. Where resources are born digital, there is no other format but the digital original. Digital materials include texts, databases, still and moving images, audio, graphics, software, and web pages, among a wide and growing range of formats. They are frequently ephemeral, and require purposeful production, maintenance and management to be retained. Many of these resources have lasting value and significance, and therefore constitute a heritage that should be protected and preserved for current and future generations. This heritage may exist in any language, in any part of the world, and in any area of human knowledge or expression. (Webb 2003)

    Digital heritage is material primarily stored and retrieved in binary format. It may be the product of an analogue to digital conversion or it may be born digital (originate and remain exclusively within the digital domain), and it can include both analogue and digital components. The key difference between digital heritage and other forms of heritage lies in its binary format, which demands distinctive approaches to the conservation of its significance and value.

    UNESCO Alternative

  • +Digital Heritage Sustainability

    Humanity has the ability to

    make development sustainable

    to ensure that it meets the

    needs of the present without

    compromising the ability of

    future generations to meet their

    own needs (Brundtland,

    Environment, and Development


    Digital heritage sustainability

    involves the collaborative

    maintenance, enrichment and

    enjoyment of digital heritage

    resources over periods of time

    that span across generations. It

    involves the maintenance of the

    integrity of data and metadata

    in binary format, and the

    maintenance of the digital

    technologies that make these

    data and metadata accessible

    to the broadest range of


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    Understanding contexts

    Investigating policy and archives, economic factors, social and

    political factors

    To map changing concepts of trust, privacy,


    To understand when policies promote or

    hinder digital heritage sustainability

    Investigating services providers and

    technology companies

    As drivers of change with or without the

    participation of the community of heritage


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    Identifying stakeholders

    Identifying roles and their levels of decision-making

    Understanding networks of

    accountability and stewardship

    Mapping commonalities and


    Identifying homogeneity of


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    digital practices

    Understanding evaluation instruments

    (i.e. analytics packages)

    Identifying traditional and emerging


    Identifying technological features

    as producing new rules and constraints

    Identifying future technological needs

    Understanding the computational modelling of responsibility

  • +Contexts

    How do the various economic, political and social drivers

    impact the way in which stakeholders interact around a

    digital heritage resource?

    Do these contexts promote or deter sustainability?

  • +Stakeholders

    Who are the presumed, actual, and expected stakeholders? Who is included, who is excluded?

    What are their roles (technical, curatorial, non-expert, collaborator)?

    How have these roles changed with the use of digital media?

    To what extent do stakeholders share the same goals around the digital heritage resource?

    What roles do stakeholders have in the decision-making process?

    And how does this translate into sustainable or unsustainable management of the digital heritage resource?

  • +Digital practices

    How is digital heritage modelled by the language and technologies a digital media service uses?

    What are the assumptions in the software analytics packages that sit at the backend of these services, and how do they shape museums digital heritage practices?

    How do the types of communication enabled in a given digital media platform contribute to establishing common goals around a digital heritage resource?

    Which curatorial practices are applicable to digital media? Which ones are not?

    Which digital media practices enrich digital heritage, which ones pollute it?

  • +Museum of London

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    Frazer Swift

    Theres a much greater emphasis now on

    engaging learners interactively so rather

    than the museum being a teacher and

    just transmitting information

    Its a two way process and we think much

    more about the learning needs of visitors

    and tailor what we do to their needs we

    tend to talk more about learning than


    Education has connotations of instructions,

    whereas what we want to do is have a

    dialogue with people as opposed to

    being a formal didactic approach so we

    use lots of actors and storytellers and

    people doing things as opposed to

    people passively receiving. (Wu 2009)

    Director, Clore Learning Centre

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    Image sources: Museum of London, Ana Sanchez Laws

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    Cathy Ross:

    Our whole story of London needed refreshment. The old galleries tell the story of London in quite an inward looking way: it was the story of the city, of the infrastructure, the roads, the search, the transport, very much looking inwards. These galleries were done in the 1970s 80s and 90s so there were some stories that we are interested in today, like migration and identity, that were just not in there. We wanted to tell a new story of London with new emphasis on it, new points of interest. We have two narratives. One is Londons relationship with the world so it is much more outwards looking we have these two big narratives: London and the world and the other one is London and people, people coming to London from the world. In both of these we wanted very much to underline change, so we have got how London changes the world how the world changes London and how people change London and London changes people. (Wu 2009)

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    RenderingPlanned redesign of caf area

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    Completed caf area

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    Interactive in twentieth century

    galleriesUsing multitouch screens to present Charles Booths map of

    London Poverty in 1887-9

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    World War 2 display

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    Image sources: Museum of London, Ana Sanchez Laws

    Old galleries Redesigned galleries

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    Bilkis Mosodik:

    Our site is not tailored for just one general visitor. There is the visitor, tourists, the researchers, academics, students who want to research and then we have other museums who want to find out what we are doing. It is four audiences rather than one so each part is tailored towards different audiences. Our learning section would be very different from exhibition section, but our collection section is quite different, because that is for researchers The whole site is not one audience: each part of the site has different voice for different audiences and needs (Wu 2009)



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    Bilkis Mosodik:

    (The blog helps) reach out to people

    as MOL employees and showcase the

    expertise within the MOL. We are not

    just about artefacts and gallery

    exhibition events, we are actually more

    than that: we are expertise. Every

    curator has an expertise that is

    valuable, and is showcasing that. (Wu





  • + Cathy RossWe are not typical of London museums, we are

    not about collections of objects but about

    stories and every object has to be eloquent

    about the story of London. We have never been

    about collections of objects but about

    engagement and you may say that is the

    corporate culture. (Wu 2009)

  • +Augmenting the Garden of Australian Dreams

    (GoAD) at the National Museum of Australia (NMA)

    Ana Sanchez Laws / Stephen Barrass

    In collaboration with Cath Styles at NMA and 150 students from Cross Media

    Production, UC

  • The GOAD project Stephen Barrass, Ana Sanchez Laws

  • +The Tasks

    1. Walk around and find out what is there.

    2. While walking around think about a Journey through the space that could be connected to form a story of some kind.

    3. Select at least 5 waypoints along the Journey - graphic, sculptural, geographic, sonic, etc.

    4. Document each waypoint using any or all of photos, sound recordings,