Museums in the Digital Age: Hybrid Museum Experience

Museums in the Digital Age: Hybrid Museum Experience

Gamze Ergin
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5274-5.ch003
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This chapter examines the transformation of museums into a hybrid space. In this context, a fully digital contemporary museum in Paris, Atelier des Lumieres, has been chosen as a case study. The research aims to answer the following questions: What is the historical process of change in artworks and museum spaces through technical reproduction? What are the factors that shape the museum experience? What is the hybrid museum? How does the museum space and experience transform with digital technological representation methods? The theoretical framework investigates the technological development of museums with a comprehensive literature review. In addition, the study creates a theoretical construct for the hybrid museum experience by examining the changing museum experience with the effects of digitalization. Atelier des Lumieres was investigated for its characteristics of the hybrid museum experience by field research. As a result, the study offers alternative solutions to increase the hybrid museum experience.
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Rapidly developing digital technologies are widely used in many disciplines, from communication to art, from education to entertainment. Recent technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), projection mapping, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and 3D printers are being widely used in art production. New spatial interfaces are emerging at the intersection of virtual and physical, and the future of the immersive, inclusive, interactive museum that stretches the boundaries depend on these digital applications. These emerging technologies bring unique spatial experiences. In the digital age, museums are becoming a hybrid experience space.

The museum-technology relationship is contextual. Museums have been changing throughout history by keeping up with new developments. In the 20th century, defined as “The Age of Extremes” by Hobsbawm (2020), social and political events, wars, and scientific and technological developments have also affected all fields of art. Museums, which have been in constant change since their emergence, have gained a new identity in the 20th century. After the utilization of photography and video in art production, internet technology has also revealed other interfaces in the reproduction and dissemination of information. These developments have transformed museums into institutional spaces that change simultaneously with technology (CIDOC, 2020).

Artworks have gained new identities by transforming with digitalization. Whether the copies of found objects, photographs, videos, and works of art had artistic value or not was a controversial issue even before the digital age of artistic production. According to Walter Benjamin (1935/2020), works produced through video and photography can create new meanings even if they cause the work of art to lose its “aura.” New technologies offer different possibilities by enabling artworks to be reproduced and presented to society.

Today, digital production and exhibition techniques are used in museums and archiving beyond photography and video. For instance, through AR technology, classical works of art can be animated, or a cultural heritage object that is too sensitive to touch can be 3D printed and used as a tactile object next to its original. According to Mensch (2019), a copy can be distinguished by three dimensions: Physical characteristics, function/importance, and context. Museologically, each object is unique in the interaction between these three dimensions. Even with a high degree of physical similarity, a copy is always different from the original by its function/importance and context (Mensch, 2019). Artifacts reproduced with digital technologies are generally far from imitation but rather aim to strengthen communication and create an immersive visitor experience. Thus, transforming the spatial identity of the museum. The new production and representation methods create hybrid museum spaces that bring together physical and digital space. All these initiatives transform museology with the increasing diversity of information technologies. In addition to management, archiving, and exhibition techniques, they also play a vital role in museums' architectural transformation.

This research aims to examine the hybrid museum in depth through the digitalization process of museums. Firstly, the study investigates the background through the digitalization process of museums and then constructs the museum experience and hybrid museum concepts. After a comprehensive literature review, the research gathers data from a hybrid museum using the single case study method from qualitative research methods. As one of the latest hybrid museums, Atelier des Lumieres in Paris was chosen to examine with a physical site visit. Through the site analysis, the study documents and analyses the hybrid museum space and the process of the hybrid museum experience.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Artificial Intelligence (AI): The ability of a system to accurately interpret and learn from given data and use them to achieve specific tasks through adaptation.

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI): An interdisciplinary field that studies how people interact with and through computers.

Artcodes: A pattern recognition system similar to QR codes.

Location-Based Storytelling: Using computer-based tools and applications to creates stories at specific locations.

Mixed-Reality (MR): A type of immersive reality that combines the real-world environment and virtual content. It differs from virtual and augmented reality by allowing users to interact with both the real world and the virtual environment.

Virtual Reality (VR): A computer-generated stimuli that creates interactive, immersive three-dimensional environments.

Crowd-Sourced Data Collection: To obtain data from a large group of people using digital data collection tools.

Augmented Reality (AR): An immersive technology that overlays digital information on top of the real environment that acts as a background through a device.

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