I, Object is one of five research projects that were developed as a result of the LIVE!Museum Project. All of these projects look at ways to enhance the on-site museum experience through the use of online technology. I, Object looks at the special value of experiencing a real object in combination with the role of the Internet as a place where people can search information and browse through content.
The personal and live encounter with an object in a gallery is a special experience. The addition of potentially significant layers (and quantities) of relational information should not obscure that experience. The intention is to reassert the relevance of the object, its enduring significance and its contemporary relationships to in-gallery and other experiences.
The research question this project will focus on is: How can Museums and Heritage Institutions bring in external live content in order to enhance visitors’ experience of in-gallery objects?
A powerful notion that emerged from the discussion was the idea that an object would effectively ‘learn about itself’ as visitors engaged with it. Each encounter, during which a visitor engages through information displays to illicit new LIVE! Information related to the object, would be ‘remembered’ by the object. Subsequent visitors could recover earlier searches, early ‘memories’ and follow new leads.
By drawing on appropriate, and evolving, datasets, the object can be placed in a relational network associating itself with comparable or related objects in the same gallery, city, county or other space. Objects might easily be related by physical location of origin or discovery, by assigned date of production or discovery, or by some other element of metadata.
The interface(s) for exploration should also allow for engagement. Visitors might wish to suggest a relationship that the object might have or to ‘take-away’ their encounter with the object and its relationships.
The interface(s) must be subtle enough to neither dominate nor interrupt the visitor experience of those who seek to ‘walk on’. Where institutions have collections that are of significance sometimes overlooked by visitors, these easily relocated interface(s) could be positioned in close proximity to ‘shine a light’ on institutions’ ‘hidden gems’.
To enable an object-centred network that generates live content drawn from within, and beyond, the site itself in such a way as to enhance the visitor’s experience of in-gallery objects. Visitors will be given the tools to enter into a dialogue with the object, which will inform visitors and itself about its place in the informational matrix.
To identify how objects can be enabled to source and create their own contemporary relevance with the use of the web
To enhance the visitor’s experience by developing the interfaces, software and tools to encourage them to engage in an object-centred experience that is relevant to their personal interests.
The members of the I, Object project team are:
Simon Atkinson – Educational Developer, London School of Economics
Jeanette Atkinson – Associate Tutor Museum Studies, University of Leicester, department of Museum Studies
Victoria Carroll – Curator, Science Museum
Daniel Evans – Head of Web, Science Museum
Ruth Harper – Network and Marketing Coordinator, Culture 24
Michael Harrison – Director, Scripti Ltd.
Carl Hogsden – Research Associate, University of Cambridge
Graham Howard – Director Systems Simulation
Boriana Koleva – Lecturer, School of Computer Science, Nottingham University
Phil Purdy – Grid Manager, Collections Trust
Paul Taylor – Project Manager Herbert 2.0, the Herbert
Rob Tice – Director Knowledge Integration