Sites Contested, Ideas Connected: Networked Media in Exhibitions of Contemporary Significance [article]

Jack Oliver Dunstan, University, The Australian National, University, The Australian National
The purpose of this research is to examine the effectiveness of networked media strategies in museum exhibitions about important contemporary issues. An extensive 2006 research project found that museums have a responsibility to present contemporary issues, providing visitors are given a meaningful opportunity to contribute to that discussion. This thesis builds upon that finding to evaluate the effectiveness of networked media – digital communication technology – in fostering discussion
more » ... visitors about issues such as climate change, refugees and terrorism. To test the capability of this strategy, visitors to an exhibition about Australian immigration policies were asked to use an iPad application to provide their own views on the exhibition's content and interact with other visitor contributions. The results demonstrate widespread support from visitors for the use of this type of technology. Museum staff also reacted favourably to findings that show visitors using networked media engage more deeply with exhibition content. However, the research also reveals a set of problems relating to the use of networked media in exhibitions about contemporary issues. These problems are categorised into two analytical chapters in this thesis. The first considers the extent to which museum staff must curate or moderate the contributions of the visiting public. The second considers the ethical and logistical issues relating to the digital dissemination of museum content. The conclusions stemming from this analysis show that networked media strategies can be highly valuable communicative tools in difficult exhibitions, provided that they are carefully designed and implemented by museum staff. Strategies shown to be effective include the integration of physical and online museum spaces, through mobile devices and standalone applications. The opportunity for meaningful visitor contribution is afforded by facilitating continuing debate outside the museum, and the active involvement of museum staff and other experts in discus [...]
doi:10.25911/5d6f9ef24408e fatcat:vly5ukuw2vds7czskymmbgfazi