Please note that this is an archived event

Museums+Tech conference 2017: Museums and tech in a divided world

Imperial War Museum London

Friday November 3 2017

Low tech, hi-tech, bi-tech, little tech – whatever the type of scale, technology provides the tools, methods and materials. But it’s what we do with them that counts.

Programme

09.30 – Registration

10.00 – Chair’s welcome – Mia Ridge

10.05 – Opening keynote – Hannah Fox, ‘What makes a museum?

Low tech, hi-tech, bi-tech, little tech – whatever the type of scale, technology provides the tools, methods and materials… but it’s what we do with them that counts. In a world where museums need to push boundaries and our comfort levels to survive and thrive, how might we use these tools and human-centred design to disrupt the form of designing and making our museums in ways that ensure they have relevance and sustainability.

Hannah will share the internationally-acclaimed approaches being used by Derby Museums to develop their sites and programmes – including their redevelopment of the Silk Mill, site of the world’s first factory, as the Museum of Making – challenging us to expand perspectives on what ‘makes a museum’.

10.50 – Session One: Museums in a post-truth world of fake news

Chair: John Stack

  • Questioning museums’ responsibilities to truth in a ‘post-truth’ world
    Sara Huws and Dayfdd James, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales; Jenny Kidd, Cardiff University; Allie John, Yellobrick
  • News or Nonsense: an exhibition about the working of news
    Karen Drost, Specialist Interactive Presentations / Curator of Exhibition, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

11.30 – Break

12.00 – Session Two: Challenging expectations

Chair: Rosie Cardiff

  • The Man in the Mirror and the death of the label: how developing low cost digital gallery interactives helped a museum understand the value of playful narrative over literal description
    Kevin Bacon, Digital Manager, Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton and Hove
  • Critical Digital Museum Practice in the Context of New Capitalism: Tactics, Strategies and Case Studies
    Alexandra Reynolds, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Southampton Solent University
  • Making Contact: Digital experiments with visitor donations
    Robert Cawston, Head of Digital Media, National Museums Scotland
  • Will you start the fans please? Museums meet Live Escape Games!
    John Sear, Game Designer, Museum Games

13.00 – Lunch and AGM

14.15 – Session Three: Post-lunch provocations: Dealing with distance; bringing the museum to the people; taking care of accessibility

Chair: Joseph Padfield

  • Museum in a box: Digital Remembrance
    Frances Jeens, Head of Learning, Jewish Museum, London
  • Popping Up: New Ways to Animate Old Spaces
    Lucy Yates, Programme Manager, Travellers’ Tails, National Maritime Museum
  • Democratising Museums
    Abira Hussein, Transforming Archive Trainee, London Metropolitan Archives
  • Sensing Culture: Sensory Access to Art and Museums
    Susan Griffiths, Community Engagement Officer, Oxford University Museums
  • Technology as empowerment tools for visually impaired visitors: an embodied museum experience
    Rafie Cecilia, PhD Candidate, UCL
  • Powerful visitor experiences in hybrid spaces
    Jo Morrison, Programme Director: Digital Innovation, Calvium

15.00 – Break

15.30 – Session Four: How can museums use sound and chatbots?

Chair: Bilkis Mosoddik

  • You can put them in a chat room but you can’t make them talk
    Adam Sibbald, Learning Producer, Historic Royal Palaces
  • Getting the message out there: telling Anne Frank’s life story with a messenger bot
    Lotte Belice Baltussen, Project Manager, Digital Strategy, Anne Frank House
  • space=sound. A plea for holistic sound scenography
    Maurice Mersinger, Founder/Music Composer/Concept, kling klang klong
  • Anagram – immersive experience, creative collective and the Imperial War Museum
    May Abdalla and Amy Rose, Co-Directors, Anagram; Susie Thornberry, Assistant Director, Imperial War Museum

16.30 – Closing Panel: Looking (back to look) forward

  • Ross Parry, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Digital), University of Leicester – Building the digital literacies of the museum workforce
  • Bridget Mckenzie, Director, Flow Associates – Technologies and tactics for museums as agents of change in a divided world.
  • Mia Ridge, outgoing Chair of the Museums Computer Group and Digital Curator, British Library

17.00 Conference ends.

Museums+Tech 2017 was sponsored by

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Abstracts

Read bios of all our fantastic speakers

Questioning museums’ responsibilities to truth in a ‘post-truth’ world – Sara Huws & Dafydd James (Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales), Jenny Kidd (Cardiff University), Allie John (Yellobrick)

Through their newly launched programme ‘Traces – Olion’, the National Museum Wales Digital Media Team, with Cardiff University, are challenging how visitors experience St Fagans National Museum of History and its collections. Using non-linear storytelling, interweaving experiences and performance, Traces – Olion uses a mix of fact and fiction to communicate its message. The team will talk about their experiences and reflect on what it means for ‘trusted’ organisations to blur the lines of truth.

News or Nonsense: an exhibition about the working of news – Karen Drost (Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision)

How do you take responsibility for your own media consumption, behaviour and truthfulness when it is increasingly difficult to distinguish real news from fake, hard news from hoaxes? A visit to the new exhibition at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision tackles this question, exploring the role, development and function of journalistic media in Dutch society, and provoking the visitor to think about what news is and how their own opinions are formed.

The Man in the Mirror and the death of the label: how developing low cost digital gallery interactives helped a museum understand the value of playful narrative over literal description – Kevin Bacon (Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton and Hove)

RPM has developed a simple solution for deploying low cost gallery interactives that provide access to digital content, offering a playground for content experiments, which have yielded surprising results. Initial experiments have provided evidence for exploring new narrative techniques, using deferred revelation rather than descriptive labels, and challenging how visitors use the museum space and engage with collections. Within this context Kevin will discuss both how technology often gets in the way of digital, and how objects can sometimes get in the way of a museum visit.

Critical Digital Museum Practice in the Context of New Capitalism: tactics, Strategies and Case Studies – Alexandra Reynolds (Southampton Soylent University)

Theorists have explicitly called for the development of digital cultural projects which move beyond the simple circulation or documentation of information to actively address socio-cultural concerns. How can we work to meet this challenge when rendering marginalised subjectivities visible can paradoxically lead to their assimilation into mainstream power structures? Alexandra will explore a range of recent participatory digital archival projects in museums and wider cultural organisations which aim to address social, cultural or political issues; and evaluate tactics and strategies for effective future practice.

Making Contact: Digital Experiments with visitor donations – Rob Cawston (National Museums Scotland)

In May 2017 National Museums Scotland launched a new way for visitors to donate in the Museum using contactless card payments. Attracted by a large screen featuring our curators, exhibition visitors were asked to donate after exiting a free exhibition. They could tap their card (or use Apple or Android pay) on a contactless terminals to donate a set amount. On payment the display changed to thank the visitor and reveal a secret about the exhibition they had just seen. This talk will explore the thinking and processes behind the project, as well as the lessons learnt – from the complexities of the underlying technology and the current contactless landscape, through to the results of the campaign and the next steps for contactless in the Museum.

Will you start the fans please? Museums meet Live Escape Games – John Sear (Museum Games)

Treasure Trails have been a stalwart of museums for decades. However, in the past 5 years there’s been a new ‘puzzle’ kid on the block – the Live Escape Game. These paid experiences have sprung up all across the UK. What can we learn from this cultural phenomenon and how can we bring their ideas into museums? The Live Escape Games sector is going to great expense to set up environments that mimic those of museums. Museums already have the environments – so, what do they need to add in order to recreate the visitor engagement that Live Escape Games provide?

Museum in a box: Digital Remembrance – Frances Jeens (Jewish Museum, London)

The Jewish Museum London worked with Museum in a Box to create a bespoke digital learning tool which can be sent to classrooms. The box focuses on Remembrance and the Jewish men and women in the British Armed Forces, a complex subject that requires deep engagement. This project used digital to address challenges such as the advancing age and diminishing energies of some of its veteran speakers, and used the opportunities offered by new technologies such as 3D scanning and printing to deepen and extend its reach and impact.

Popping Up: New Ways to Animate Old Spaces – Lucy Yates (National Maritime Museum)

After the Travellers’ Tails pop-up museum in Lewisham Shopping Centre closed, we wanted to display the artwork created there and invite this new audience to the Queen’s House, the National Maritime Museum’s Grade II listed art gallery. Building restrictions meant that our artists in residence, Cracked Light, had to innovate, leading them to animate the space with the public’s contributions in new ways, using digital interventions to transform this challenging gallery space.

Democratising Museums – Abira Hussein (London Metropolitan Archives)

Abira has been exploring how institutions can take items with colonial ties out of their glass boxes and out to their community of origin, to be reinterpreted and shared. The project looked at ways of democratising museum spaces that have traditionally held on to objects, at challenging the purpose of museums and curators as gatekeepers, and at how digital technologies can help create dialogue with communities and act as a bridge to further engagement.

Sensing Culture: Sensory Access to Art and Museums – Susan Griffiths (Oxford University Museums)

Digital technologies offer new possibilities for increasing access to museums and collections for those with particular access needs. Oxford University Museums are currently working on a number of project to improve access for people who are blind or partially sighted. The museums are using photogrammetry and 3D printing, sophisticated touch screen technology, and new audio solutions, coupling this with thorough training programmes and approaches for embedding accessible approaches into the organisational culture.

Technology as empowerment tools for visually impaired visitors: an embodied museum experience – Rafie Cecilia (UCL)

Blind and partially sighted people are often not offered a choice of how to navigate and explore museum spaces and displays. There is no space for introspection, or for ‘free’ entertainment. The time spent in the space is usually fixed and limited, the route pre-determined, and the meaning-making process influenced by the interpretation offered by guides. Rafie will look at how technology can be employed to facilitate the equality of opportunities, allowing blind and partially sighted people to navigate and make sense of the space and the collections on their own.

Powerful visitor experiences in hybrid spaces – Jo Morrison (Calvium)

Digital technologies influence the ways in which people act in and upon the world – we shape technologies and they shape us. For many years cultural institutions have been exploring the myriad opportunities that digital technologies – such as mobile, augmented reality and haptic – offer the institution, their visitors, staff and wider society. Jo will take lessons learned from the last 15 years of experimentation and discuss how museums can use relatively mature technologies to provide visitor experiences that enable varied forms of interaction, exploration of challenging narratives, and individual participation.

You can put them in a chat room but you can’t make them talk – Adam Sibbald (Historic Royal Palaces)

‘The People’s Revolt’ is an immersive event at the Tower of London. Partnering with Interactive theatre company differencEngine the project aimed to bridge the gap between history and performance by immersing the audience in a world where their actions have wide-reaching consequences. Inspired by the events of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt, audiences are challenged to take a pivotal role in this country’s political past and actively engage with other participants through an extensive pre-engagement platform. But when given the chance and the means to communicate with other audience members will they use them?

Getting the message out there: telling Anne Frank’s life story with a messenger bot – Lotte Belice Baltussen (Anne Frank House)

One of the focal point of the mission of the Anne Frank House is to reach young people with Anne’s life story, and warning them about the risks and effects of racism and discrimination. To expand their reach, the Anne Frank House partnered with Facebook Netherlands and MSG.ai to develop an AI-driven Messenger bot that presents many facets of Anne Frank’s life story in a personalised chat conversation. Lotte will share how they used digital storytelling techniques to engage users and provide high-quality, reliable information.

space=sound. A plea for holistic sound scenography – Maurice Mersinger (king klang klong)

There is no such thing as silence. In mixed media environments, so called ‘silence’ often turns out to be noise. Audio Guides isolate visitors from each other. Many sound sources might invade the space and dilute the message. But sound can also help people concentrate, understand and experience subjects. In 2015 kling klang klong teamed up to develop new strategies and technologies in order to enhance the sound experience of exhibition spaces. Maurice will share insights from research and development and explore how the exhibition space can adapt to visitors.

Anagram – immersive experience, creative collective and the Imperial War Museum – May Abdalla and Amy Rose (Anagram), Susie Thornbury (Imperial War Museum)

In 2015 the Tower of London worked with Anagram on the interactive digital experience ‘Nightwatchers’, a sellout immersive show about surveillance and terrorism in contemporary and historic London. In 2017 the same team worked at the Imperial War Museum as part of their Syria season exploring fake news, biased algorithms and our everyday prejudices. ‘I Swear to Tell the Truth’ invites the public to become actively involved in decoding our personal truths and fictions using scraped digital data, a room with many doors and a sleight of hand. Amy, May and Susie will share lessons learned about engaging with the critical mind in museums.

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