New Media Interactivity in the Museum

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  • Title: New Media Interactivity in the Museum: Democratisation or Dumbing Down?
  • Author(s): Ingrid Templer
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Inclusive Museum
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum
  • Keywords: New Media, Interactivity, Museum
  • Volume: 2
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2009
  • ISSN: 1835-2014 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1835-2022 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v02i01/58339
  • Citation: Templer, Ingrid. 2009. "New Media Interactivity in the Museum: Democratisation or Dumbing Down?." The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum 2 (1): 165-178. doi:10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v02i01/58339.
  • Extent: 14 pages

Abstract

New media discourse brings to the table discussions about interactivity, about how humans interact with media and technology in terms of engagement and meaning making. New media, is the result of old media becoming computerised, that is, produced, stored and distributed in a numerical form. It includes media such as the web, computer games and DVDs. Virtual reality environments also employ new media. This paper questions whether new media interactivity fundamentally differs from interactivity in general. More specifically it explores whether new media enhances the museum experience or trivialises it. Does it democratise knowledge, or is it a form of ‘dumbing down’ in order to appeal to the greatest possible number of people? Two museums are analysed, both in the Johannesburg area, namely, the Origins Centre and the Maropeng Visitors Centre. Both have themes of mankind's origin and early development in Africa. Their approach to interactivity however, differs considerably, thereby providing fertile contexts for comparison.