Do It Together: The effect of curators, designers and technologists sharing the making of new interactive visitors’ experiences

Paper
Daniela Petrelli, Sheffield Hallam University, UK, nick dulake, Sheffield Hallam University , UK, Mark Marshall, Sheffield Hallam University, UK, Hub Kockelkorn, Museon, Netherlands, Anna Pisetti, Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra, Italy

Published paper: Do it together: The effect of curators, designers, and technologists sharing the making of new interactive visitors’ experiences

Tangible interaction offers new ways to engage users with digital systems through material means. We use ubiquitous computing to create reactive spaces and smart objects that seamlessly blend with the surroundings or the exhibition and bridge the gap between the physical and the digital. The technology is intentionally concealed to bring places and stories from the past into the present and create immersive experiences where technology complements heritage (as opposed to compete with it for visitors’ attention). The full integration of technology with the exhibition or heritage requires approaching the design of the visitors’ experience as a collaborative project that combines curatorial, technical and design aspects.

As a multi-expertise team, we created, implemented, and evaluated thee concepts: an evocative experience in the trenches and camp of World War I in the Italian Alps; an interactive layer to tell the personal stories of those involved in the changes in The Hague during the Nazi occupation; and a set of multimedia installations to enrich a permanent collection of World War I artillery. The design effort was on both the creation of bespoke devices and the composition of content that was not didactic but open to personal interpretation: curators left traces for visitors to pick up, and when this occurred the experience was deeper and stronger.

Our evaluations show that the powerful outcome cannot be ascribed to just one component, technology versus content. One empowers the other: an approach that simultaneously works on interaction and content is essential to make a design that exploits the place or the objects to a powerful final effect. Clearly, this challenges the traditional exhibition design process as curators become creative members of the team in charge of shaping, through the content, the final experience of the visitors. It is then a matter of rethinking not only the technology for heritage, but also the process, and for curators to become more daring with content.

Bibliography:
Videos showing the two case studies:
- WWI trenches: clip from field trail at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLORDVpivhM
- The Hague Atlantikwall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sK3AdQU9kkc

REFERECES
Dudley, S. (2010) Museum materialities: Objects, sense and feeling. In Dudley,
S. (ed.) Museum Materialities: Objects, Engagements, Interpretations. Routledge

Petrelli, D., Ciolfi, L., van Djik, D., Hornecker, E., Not, E. and Schmidt, A.
(2013) Integrating Material and Digital: A New Way for Cultural Heritage.
ACM Interactions 20(4), July + August 2013, 58–63.

McDermott, F., Clarke, L., Avram, G. and Hornecker, E. (2013) The Challenges
and Opportunities Faced by Cultural Heritage Professionals in Designing Interactive
Exhibits, In Proceedings of NODEM 2013, Nordic Digital Excellence in
Museums Conference, Stockholm, Sweden Dec. 2013
(http://www.academia.edu/5694408/Challenges_and_opportunities_faced_by_c
ultural_heritage_professionals_in_designing_interactive_exhibits)

D. Petrelli, M. Marshall, E. Not, M. Zancanaro, A. Venturini, D. Cavada, T. Kubitza, A. Schmidt, M. Risseeuw D. van Dijk, M. (2015) meSch: Implementing the Internet of Things for Cultural Heritage. Proc. of International conference on Digital Heritage, Granada 28 September – 2 October 2015
M. Zancanaro, E. Not, D. Petrelli, M. Marshall, T. van Dijk, M. Riseeuw, D. van Dijk, A. Venturini, D. Cavada, T. Kubitza, (2015) Recipes for tangible and embodied visit experiences. Museum and the Web 2015