Which way will you turn?

We came across the following article yesterday that we think pretty well sums up the seismic changes currently occurring in the heritage and museums industry – http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/jul/08/museums-future-lies-online.

The crossroads that the interpretation world is approaching is much more than a speck on the horizon – its round the next bend and we all need to slow down and think which way to turn. Some of our earlier blogs have explored the importance of Web 2.0 to interpretation and considered how we can adapt to accommodate, appreciate and utilise it effectively.

The ‘web’ will be an online ‘virtual reflection’ of the onsite experience, not merely a gateway to find out opening times and contact details. The rise of social networking is illustrative of the fact that we must provide opportunities for conversation and discussion between audiences to define interpretive ‘meaning’, and ourselves (as interpreters, curators, conservation officers etc) to support and, where necessary, facilitate and embellish this process. It is about fostering and building engaged, empowered and empathetic communities – this will be a catalyst for the ongoing care and preservation of our ‘special’ places and objects.

This active ‘social network’ can be embellished by interactive games – to be ‘played’ online and onsite through mobile media – and online exhibitions. These exhibitions can be as simple as specifically created HTML pages (with opportunities to engage, interact and discuss ‘stories’ with ‘online rangers’ and fellow users) to Flash built interactive experiences, and even ‘virtual worlds’.

So, as Serota and MacGregor, allude to in their ‘vision’, we are approaching a crossroads.

But… which way will you turn? Or will you continue to go straight on?

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