Design and field testing: Making the ‘Ars Incognita’ mediated exhibition and mobile app a reality – Booth 7

Vince Dziekan, Monash University, Australia, Simon Sherrin, Museum Victoria, Australia

Mobile applications have rapidly become a “naturalized” feature of the museum eco-system. While many aspects of museological practice in the “distributed” or “multimedial” museum have readily adapted to technological developments in information and communication technology, curatorial practice by and large has been far more circumspect. The 2015 installment of Museums and the Web Asia featured the first MWX exhibition curated outside of North America. Developed in collaboration between Vince Dziekan (Curator of MWX – the exhibition initiative of Museums and the Web) and Simon Sherrin (Lead Developer), ‘Ars Incognita’ re-purposed Museum Victoria’s award-winning ‘Field Guide to Australian Fauna’ app as a mediated exhibition experience. The resulting exhibition project extended the structure, features and functionalities of the app to serve as an platform for this set of specifically-commissioned artist-driven productions. Additionally, the curatorial design of the exhibition promoted an active mode of participation by calling upon delegates attending MWA2015 in Melbourne to engage in “fieldwork”. Conducted as a social experiment between 5-8 October 2015, random acts of exploring, recording and collecting were supported by social media integration throughout the conference. This paper documents the evolution of this creative undertaking from the “situated” perspectives of curator and multimedia developer respectively. The more curatorially-inflected discussion directs particular attention towards discussing the nature of collaborative transactions involved, between curator and developer, artists, and audience; while also accounting for the ways in which this project has continued to build upon the GENERA source code for iOS-based mobile applications (released by Museum Victoria under an open-source license in 2013). This research contributes shared practice-based insights into user experience (UX) design, museums communication and cultural curating.

Relevant previous publications:

Dziekan, V. (2012). Virtuality and the Art of Exhibition: Curatorial Design for the Multimedial Museum. Intellect: Bristol.

Sherrin, S. (2011). “Release your local species into the iOS ecosystem.” In J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Web 2011: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics. Available at:

Sherrin, S. and Wallis, E. (2012). “Creating a Mobile App Ecosystem – The Genera Project for iOS” In N. Proctor and R. Cherry (eds.). Museums and the Web 2012: Proceedings. San Diego: Archives & Museum Informatics. Available at:

Nb. Further bibliographic references will be provided in full paper.