The Challenges and Opportunities Faced by Cultural Heritage Professionals in Designing Interactive Exhibits

Authors: Fiona Mcdermott, Gabriela Avram, Loraine Clarke, Eva Hornecker

Date: 2013

In: Proceedings of NODEM 2013, Stockholm, December 2013, NODEM Digital Repository

Abstract: Petrelli et al. (2013) propose a movement that would empower curators, artists and designers in the creation, installation, maintenance and alteration of exhibits that are meant to bring materiality […]

Abstract: Petrelli et al. (2013) propose a movement that would empower curators, artists and designers in the creation, installation, maintenance and alteration of exhibits that are meant to bring materiality and physical interaction to the forefront of visitors’ experience, while simultaneously expressing the values of the cultural institution. While many cultural heritage professionals would welcome this ability to create and integrate interactive exhibits into the design of exhibitions, for the majority there is a significant technical knowledge gap and the tools required to create these exhibits are still out of reach. In order to understand what methods and technologies could be suitable, we first need to ascertain the existing challenges and opportunities faced by cultural heritage professionals in designing interactive exhibits. The research focuses specifically on the working perspective of cultural heritage professionals, complementing existing studies on the design and implementation of interactive exhibits at cultural heritage sites.

Based on interviews with professionals from a range of cultural heritage institutions across Europe, we investigate the existing curatorial practice, revealing the challenges faced when creating interactive exhibits, as well as the difficulties in relation to access, authorship, participation, creativity and control of such exhibits. We examine two aspects of the cultural heritage professionals’ work practices in relation to interactive exhibits: (1) the attitudes and perspectives of curators and designers highlighting the values, goals and aspirations that are considered when creating exhibitions and (2) current resources and methods used to create and implement interactive digital exhibits indicating the advantages and disadvantages of these.

In conclusion, we outline strategies and resources that could aid cultural heritage professionals in the design and development of interactive exhibits. We discuss design implications to be considered in the creation of a hardware and software platform that would allow these professionals to bridge this knowledge gap.

The abstract can be found in the NODEM digital repository: http://repo.nodem.org?objectId=133.