From the Museums of Objects to the Virtual Museums: An Opportunity for Local Tourism Development1

From the Museums of Objects to the Virtual Museums: An Opportunity for Local Tourism Development1

Sonia Ferrari (University of Calabria, Italy) and Monica Gilli (University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8577-2.ch013
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Abstract

This paper analyses the role played by the new multimedia technologies for the development of the offer of museums. The role of museums is changing: while in the past the goal of mere cataloguing and preservation prevailed, today these institutions are making efforts to increase the number of visitors and attract new segments of demand, as well as qualify their offer. It emerges, for all these reasons, the need to modify the positioning and the offering of cultural attractions, strengthening them in experiential terms. Therefore, in terms of management of cultural heritage it is necessary to focus on the ability to get closer to the public and to create richer and striking experiences for visitors through new technologies. The paper presents some of the most interesting cases of Italian audience-driven museums (Hopper-Greenhill, 1994) focused on innovative ITC support.
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Introduction

This paper analyses the role played by the new multimedia technologies for the development of the offer of museums. In the last 30 years the number of museums has grown enormously and they have taken a leading role for different subjects. For the big towns but also the former industrial cities, they have become a urban repositioning instrument; for the small communities they are now a tool for tourism development (that is also strengthening their roots); in the meantime large and small companies use corporate or business museums as a way to acquire new customers and improve their image.

It can be deduced that currently the role of cultural heritage is wider than in the past and the cultural resources of an area, especially in the case of a tourist destination, should be able to educate and, most important, entertain visitors. Thereby the protection of cultural heritage passes through the concept of the use value rather than the intrinsic value of the assets. In this new approach, which has emerged since the Sixties, the enhancement of cultural heritage focuses on the demand’s development and the application of a management system that, also thanks to new professionals, enables the public to perceive the value of cultural heritage and the need to protect it properly. The economic and cultural potential of heritage is not, therefore, bound only with its aesthetic or otherwise to its intrinsic value, but rather to its ability to generate value for its area. This capacity can be expressed in the first place, but not only, through the tourist use.

The role of the cultural operators and, in particular, the museums is, therefore, changing; while in the past the goal of mere cataloguing and preservation prevailed, today these institutions are making efforts to increase the number of visitors and attract new segments of demand (especially families and young people), as well as qualify their offer. It emerges, for all these reasons, the need to modify the positioning and the offering of cultural attractions, strengthening them in experiential terms. Therefore, in terms of management of cultural heritage it is necessary to focus on the ability to get closer to the public and to create richer and striking experiences for visitors, trying to increase their satisfaction thanks to a wider range of benefits, not only in strictly functional terms but also in emotional terms. Currently, significant efforts in this direction have been made primarily by science museums, thanks to the perspective of edutainment and the need to make amusing and entertaining as well as informative the visit, even for the little ones and for schools. Today very often the museums improve their offer in these terms by means of new ITC technologies that are effective instruments to involve the visitor in an experiential way.

However, today the increase in thee number of museums is not only due to their role in the society. It is also due to the evolution of the very idea of museum and cultural heritage. In fact, heritage is no longer just a sculpture or a painting, but it consists also of everyday objects or even intangible cultural elements and memories such as songs, dances, etc. In this perspective, even the small local communities who did not possess masterpieces or valuable cultural assets have been able to create their museums.

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