I really enjoyed the reading about the app Art++ in “Next Practices in Digital and Technology,” by the Association of Art Museum Directors. I feel as though the decision of the designers and developers to use an app on one’s smart phones or tablets to better augment the museum experience is a progressive step into the future. By creating an app that acts as an interactive tour guide and identifier of art pieces and provides explanations of the different works, Art++ gives visitors the ability to engage with the pieces in a way beyond just walking past them in the museum space. This creation highlights what our class discussed about museums trying to make themselves into an experience that is more accessible to everyone in the public sphere. Although these apps definitely are a good start, as they allow those with smartphones to learn more about the spaces they are stepping into, it still only caters to those in society who can afford a smartphone in the first place. So although technology allows the museum to take the first steps in stepping down from its elitist roots, the museum still has a ways to go in ensuring that it is an experience that can be understood and appreciated by anyone.
To be honest, I’m not sure if technology can ever fully bridge this gap. Although technology can pave the way for a more universal experience at a museum, the museum itself can never remove itself from the fact that it is an institution that requires a certain level of status and cultural knowledge to be understood and appreciated. If anything technology might further complicate the idea of a museum, as it changes the definition as well as the creation of things that are considered “art” in the first place.
Here’s a link to the app’s website if you want to check it out:
In reading Weil, I was interested in the general role of the museum. What purpose does the museum serve? Namely, does the institution provide special services to the visitors or does it focus on the objects while allowing the public to view the process? If the first, the museum would be considered a business, selling a product of cultural capital to the middle class public. The implementation of technology in this case would therefore mean that they are just expanding there means to sell. They cannot give too much information via digital platforms as this would negate the need to visit the museum in person and pay admission. Still, minor platforms can be used as a means of advertising and attracting new customers. While some museums have free admission, all museums rely on donors which make up a large portion of funding. The more well-know a museum is, the likelihood for funding will increase.
In light of the business model, I am hesitant towards accepting museums as saintly institutions. There is just as much politics and controversy behind the intellectual shroud as any other corporation. On the other hand, if the museum focuses on the pieces instead of the public, they limit the ability of the outside world to learn. Culture and art would therefore be limited only to the few who spend their lives researching it. While the objects are far safer in this situation, they are not shared with masses and open for education. In extreme cases, one could eliminate the need for museums in general an replace everything with digital technology. However humanity itself is affected as the need for human creation is eliminated from the process. If people were to solely interact with a screen and digital platforms they would lose the direct contact they would naturally have by interacting with another individual’s work in person. Putting everything in digital form eliminates the drive to create in the first place. If artists know their work will never be put in an institution, they may not bother to make art at all, although some will switch to the digital form.
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