Reinventing Museums

Museums are the custodians of the artifacts most valued by our society – but as people are becoming busier and more distracted, how can they attract people to come and see them, and how can they bring their exhibits to life?

Revered objects, encased in glass, with an adjacent plaque containing two paragraphs of text is the experience most of us have had when we visited a museum. But this is not going to be enough to attract a new generation of museum goers. And museums need to acknowledge that they are competing for time – discretionary entertainment time which is becoming increasingly scarce and cluttered..

Museums need to reinvent themselves, in much the same way that libraries have done. On the cusp of becoming irrelevant, libraries are becoming a shared – even social – space where people can immerse themselves in knowledge and ideas. It’s not just about books anymore. The library has become a physical portal to knowledge rather than the ‘owner’ of the knowledge.

And while libraries are no longer about books, museums shouldn’t just be about ‘objects’. Museums need to bring their exhibits to life and show them in use, in situ and in context. How was it used? By whom? What were the living conditions at the time? What else was happening at the time? Museums need to create both immersive and educational experiences.

Technology holds the key to the reinvention of museums and the creation of compelling experiences for visitors.

Video content and interactive displays can enhance static exhibits and make them more engaging. And forward thinking museums are using holograms to bring objects to life in a captivating way and also present them in the form of augmented reality by showing a holographic image within a physical or virtual environment.

And it’s not just about the visit – the single event – museums need to explore how they can engage the public before and after their visit. How can they attract visitors? How can the museum provide more information and learning after each visit and how can they attract people to come again?

In terms of technology, the tools are available now, Museums just need to embrace them. Reinvention is really about the museums understanding what they have – which is significant and valuable – and helping more people to appreciate them in a deeper, more immersive way.