Digitizing the Heritage Experience

The concept of design thinking, (focusing on how users interact with and experience a website or product in order to design a responsive experience) has become standard in the digital world. However, the concept of user experience is not a new concept, nor is it exclusive to sectors such as technology, design, and e-commerce. If you think about it, heritage professionals, from archaeologists to museum and exhibit curators, have been immersed in the question of how people experience and consume information and artifacts from the past for centuries. Understanding how visitors continue to interact with and experience museums and historical research in the 21st century is the question currently facing heritage professionals.

Curating the Past for the Digital Age: History and the Online Experience

The internet has disrupted everything, from how we communicate and learn to how society stores and interacts with information. Google may have started out with grand ambitions to create something of a digital, 21st-century counterpart to the Library of Alexandria, but as the current state of politics and online culture have shown, even the most open and democratic information (or especially the most open and democratic) needs a good curator.

Why the User Experience Matters for Museums and Cultural Institutions

Like every modern institution and business, museums and galleries are plagued with the same issues that have become staples of a more digital and data-driven world, such as:

  • How to attract and retain visitors and patrons.
  • Fundraising for restoration projects, new acquisitions, and investments in research and institutional needs.
  • How to get, keep and engage the attention of consumers faced with an onslaught of stimulation and information.

If They Can Take a Selfie With It, Will They Come?

People may spend more and more time online and be more distracted than ever before, but the need and desire to connect with and understand our history is one of the things that makes and keeps us human. In order to capitalize on the seeming digital divide between history and the present, heritage professionals can start by building a bridge between the digital and physical world for consumers. Building a responsive website, creating interactive apps and taking advantage of social media, are the best places to start.

Related Posts:

Are Museum Visitors Consumers of the Past?

Can Social Media Improve your Museum’s Outreach?

Augmented Reality is Enhancing Museum Exhibits Across the Globe


Are Museum Visitors Consumers of the Past?

The museum experience is rapidly changing. While you may remember a passive museum experience, where you quietly browsed the galleries while learning as much as you could from an expert, the museum of today offers an active experience that has turned visitors from passive consumers of information to active consumers of the past.

Museology is how we can study this new kind of museum. in order for museums to thrive, they need both new and repeat customers. To do this, they need to offer something new … to a new kind of “consumer”. Read on to learn three ways museum visitors are consumers of the past under new museology.

Consuming Culture

The cultural consumer puts a value on experiences that include creativity, aesthetic appeal, doing good, solving a problem and a reflection of personal values. This type of consumer may represent a small part of the overall population, but for museums, cultural consumers make up a large part of a museum’s member list. They expect an experience that is so meaningful that it will linger with them for a long time, eventually prompting them to go back for a new cultural experience.

Consuming Experiences

No two museum visits are the same, especially in this era of customized everything, and today’s consumers of the past want their needs and desires met through personalized museum visits.

According to Seph Rodney in his article “How Museum Visitors Became Consumers,” in the past, museum visitors could expect an educational experience where information was transferred from curator to visitor. Today, visitors are looking for interaction, something they can take away with them: an experience like no other.

Experiences for Economy

Providing an experience for consumers is the next great stage in business, and at the end of the day, a museum is a business. Through the concept of an experience economy, museum visitors become consumers of the past through these customized visits. Are these visits a true reflection of the histories they portray, or is there some alternate reality provided for the sake of visitor pleasure?