I came across this tweet from Archimuse the other day:

OK, it’s just an ephemeral twitter post. But both the original tweet and the retweet are from influential sites (Archimuse and Museums and the Web, respectively), whose words should normally be taken seriously.

So when they say that museum gallery rooms which are not assisted by many media (including, I guess, social media) are ‘stupid’, I think one has to take that claim seriously as more than an accidental tweet.

There may be ‘stupid’ ways of building galleries and displaying material artefacts. And there may also be ‘stupid’ ways of using social media in museums. There are plenty of opportunities for being ‘stupid’ in museums and on the web.

But to suggest that building a gallery without social media enhancement is ‘stupid’ per se — that claim is both ignorant and arrogant.

Ignorant because it shows a lack of understanding of the importance of unmediated engagement with material culture.

And arrogant, because it is made from the position of a technology (new media), which is only about ten years old, in contrast to the tradition for unmediated display of material museum artefacts, which has existed for hundreds of years.

And that’s why, in spite of being as long-time practitioner of new media in museums, I think the notion of ‘stupid rooms’ is — stupid!

 

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