Museum ICT development

Rethinking existing participatory practices: options and obstacles for museum ICT development

Project partners

Associate Professor, PhD Sigurd Gronemann; Professor, dr.phil. Kirsten Drotner, University of Southern Denmark; and Natural History Museum of Denmark

Project period

1 August 2016 - 1 July 2019

Today, digital media is far beyond being regarded as ‘new media’ in most museums – museums have long prioritised and integrated digital communication into their strategies, and now practise digital communication in a continuous flow across departments, projects and employees. However, despite these efforts, a gap exists between the hopes for participation, engagement and a destabilisation of institutional authority wrought by digital media and the actual engagement and communication practices created with and for museum audiences. Drawing on theoretical perspectives from media studies, human computer interaction (HCI) and museology and applying an action research approach, this project addresses the discrepancy by asking: how do museums approach digital developments across projects, employees, internal stakeholders and external partners? And how can best practise models for digital museum development be formed, applied and evaluated in order to generate more general recommendations for museums’ digital development? In empirical terms, the focus is on the Natural History Museum of Denmark’s approach to digital development with regard to a variety of emerging digital initiatives for user engagement and learning. In methodological terms, the project adopts an iterative and mixed-method approach involving ethnographic methods together with more action-based research interventions and participatory design methods.