New Media and the Museum: Practices and Possibilities

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* Sarah Cook, Research Fellow for the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at University of Sunderland

* Ross Parry, Lecturer in Museums and New Media at the University of Leicester Programme Director of Museum Studies at University of Leicester
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This session will focus upon the ways in which new media has been taken up and used within museums. It explores how new media practices become objects to be curated, collected and archived within museums, as well as designing new media objects for interpretation and education within museums

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This recording is part of:

Resolutely Analogue?: Art Museums in Digital Culture
Programme B

Monday 2 March – Friday 6 March 2009

At the outset the research project Tate Encounters chose to use new media for volunteer participants to record their own encounters with Tate Britain as well as a research tool for reflexive documentation and commentary. This took the practical form of a dedicated intranet site and the use of mobile digital recording.

In using new media the project made a number of assumptions about how undergraduate student participants used new media, how this related to the ways in which a national art museum understood the potential of new media and what the use of new media might produce as research data. Having now completed two years of fieldwork, the project is now reflecting upon its initial assumptions and raising a number of critical questions which it aims to share and extend with a wider group interested in the development of new media in relationship to museums.

Some of the initial questions relate to the following:

  • To what extent does the web visitor have agency to ‘act back’ or to ‘author’ their interactions with museum websites?
  • How is new media being conceived as an ‘interpretative’ or ‘augmenting’ dimension of the museum experience and with what effects?
  • How do museums see and understand the value of the use of personal mobile media within the museum?

These questions have been grouped under the title ‘Resolutely Analogue? Art Museums in Digital Culture’ to signal the tension between change and continuity, between new media enthusiasms and traditional museological practices. Issues such as the use of media in the gallery centered on authority and provenance, ownership and copyright, and user engagement will also be discussed throughout the week’s programme.

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