Diachronic Perspective and Interaction: New Directions for Innovation in Historical Museums

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Museums innovation is facing a crisis, despite dissatisfaction expressed by practitioners and funding institutions, historical museums still retain traditional practices. Moreover, research in this field seems to focus on visitors, neglecting the needs expressed by museum staff. Two main issues seem to demand for solutions: the absence of a dialogue between museums and young audiences, and ineffective approaches to convey historical processes.

Typical young visitors are pupils participating to guided tours, in which guides provide oral narratives about historical artifacts and events. Although this interaction style may appeal to teachers, as it reminds of school teaching, it has several disadvantages: a dialogue never occurs between adults and children, who listen in silence, hence it becomes hard to evaluate what has being learnt and how deeply, and finally it is not very engaging.

An ongoing participatory inquiry is being conducted, to explore deeper forms of learning and communication for historical museums. Our hypothesis is that the diachronic perspective on historical processes, defined as social interaction within the environment through time, is a key missing element. Explorations of more interactive representations of the diachronic perspective, through play and tangible interaction, may foster a dialogue with young visitors.

Therefore, a new interactive installation is being designed, intended as a tool to enrich learning, allowing children to experience historical processes as continuous socio-material phenomena. In this paper we discuss identified issues, design process and technological set-up.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2012
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Technology, knowledge and Society, Eighth International Conference, 16-18 January 2012, University of California, Los Angeles, USA


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