Museums and the internet

Mark Walhimer Future of Museums, Museum Trends 1 Comment


Today, received an email asking about “the role of the internet in modern museums.”

The quick answer is “the internet changed everything”.  Had to think about the “what” and “how”.

The role of a museum is different with the internet.

Don’t think anything will ever replace the experience of sitting in-front of a piece of art and being transformed.  People still need to go to the “bricks and mortar” museum for the in-person experience.  But now the in-person experience is only part of a museum experience.  The “museum” is now an entity without walls.

Now, The relationship between museum and visitor has changed, now everyone is a “curator”.  The difference is how much influence visitors have as a “citizen curator”.

Now, Museums exist within an “ecosystem” of Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAMs), museums no longer exist as stand alone entities.

Now, The role of the museum is changing, before a school museum visit was a “nice experience” for students, now it is seen as a necessity to increase test scores.

Before, there was a “build it and they will come” attitude about museums, just build a museum and it will be the corner stone of our downtown redevelopment, now with online reviews of everything, museums are event based communities that reach beyond their physical location.

In the end, the internet has focused the museum experience. Now the two or three hour museum visit is an inspirational experience provided by the art, science or history.  The visitor’s time at a museum is a pinnacle of a journey that starts on the internet and returns to the internet after the “in-person” experience. The internet changed almost everything about museums, museums are still archival machines with a purpose of preservation. But, how a museum interacts with the public is very different.

I am thankful that museums have changed, and a museum visitor’s experience is better because of the internet.

A few interesting articles:

Mark Walhimer interviewed for David Wallis article New York Times, March 20, 2014, “Start-Up Success Isn’t Enough to Found a Museum”

Everyones a curator

Is your job routine, if so it’s probably disappearing

About museums as communities without walls

GLAMs – The convergence of Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums


Comments 1

  1. Post

    Hi Everyone,
    How has the internet changed museums for you?

    What do you think about the post?

    – Mark

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