Architecture Uncategorized

Museum Survival in a Digital Age


Contributed by: Nina Frolova, Managing Editor of online magazine “”:

Nowadays searching on the internet has become almost an inborn reflex. The advantages brought by the world-wide web such as instant data delivery irrespective of geoposition simultaneously represent a problem for almost all traditional cultural institutions.

With a concert hall or a theatre there is an ongoing argument on greater immersion into a theatrical play or a musical concert by means of a video recording (with its thoroughly thought through focus and proximity to the performers) as compared with just being physically present.

Sketch of New Library Project, source:

For a library and public lectures this competition with online book catalogues and webinars almost certainly spells doom, should new methods of attracting the public fail to materialize.

Strangely enough it is the museums that are best surviving competition with the virtual space. Perhaps it is because museums have been in evolution since the middle of the last century, constantly adjusting to the visitors’ needs. The unprecedented tourism boom has put visiting museums within easy reach for lots of people from around the world and not just to locals. There is difficult-to-reproduce art there, such as installations, performances, “immersive” projects, utilizing the latest technology.  Augmented reality used in art works is also still quite difficult to bring into the internet.

The reason for museums surviving the competition can also be found elsewhere: although catalogues of works of art have appeared in the net already in the 1990s, we have yet to see online exhibiting spaces able not only to compete, but even to compare to their “real-life” analogues.  Zooming in on an incredible Ghent altarpiece still leaves you dealing with pictures on the screen.

The work of art interacts not only with our vision, as in the case of the digital version, but with our other feelings.  Context does play a big role even with sterile white halls (which nevertheless differ in size and quality of lighting). But what is most important in the “meeting with the art” notion is that in a museum or a gallery it is a person who is making decisions on how and where to proceed or pause or conclude a visit, as opposed to the performing arts, assuming that the spectator is playing by someone else’s rules. Of course, one may leave during the concert, but this is an extreme occurrence.

At an exhibition people move in accordance with their own route deciding when to start, suspend or complete the visit, each time creating a unique experience stemming from all four dimensions, including time – from spaces, exhibits, random fellow visitors, the view from the museum window, etc.

Virtual art museum,Jean-Marie Forest project, copyright UMA (Universal Museum of Art)

Text edited by: Irina Vernichenko


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