Recontextualizing the Collection

The paper I will be presenting at the Museums and the Web conference in Vancouver next month is now online. I know you can’t wait to get at it, so here’s an appetizer from a section called Tools of Representation.

All museums are places of technologically-enhanced representation. At its most fundamental level, a museum is a place for the re-presentation – the presenting again – of something created, used, or identified with someplace else. Many technologies or tools assist in this enterprise. Plate glass, cases, framing, interior architecture, lighting, climate-control, and signage combine to form a sometimes surprisingly high-tech, if mostly transparent, “machine” for the presentation of a cultural artifact, artwork, or other exhibit. Certainly more complex mechanisms exist. Interactive technologies both in physical space and on-line enable museums to act as platforms for the creation of an experience. In the manner that a theater stage is a kind of machine for the production of an experience or a run-time application is a virtual machine for enabling lines of code to be actualized, the museum today operates as an enabler of visitor experience. For many museums and cultural organizations, this experience is made possible by providing context. But it has not always been this way.

I know, I know, how dare I leave you with such a cliffhanger? The whole thing is located here.