Culture as Dialogue

What is the role of culture and museums in Danish people’s lives?

This was the context the team was asked to explore during this two-week exploration. Carrying this out required the team to gather information through observations and interviews, and synthesize meaningful interventions to address the project brief.

During the first week of our human-centered research, we carried out six interviews with people who frequent museums and other cultural institutions. Review of our findings led to three insights on how our participants felt they connected to culture through museums.

Insights:

1. Culture is a dialogue between participants.
2. There is a tension between passive and active engagement in museums.
3. How should museums balance narration and room for individual interpretation?

Next, we developed three questions based on these insights which became the focus of our idea generation phase.

Questions focused on during idea generation:

1. How might we better emphasize the content within the museum-going experience?
2. How might we better balance the space for individual interpretations and the narration the museums provide?
3. How might we better get the public to engage in a “conversation” with the museum outside its walls?

The result was a large number of ideas that we categorized into five groups: (1) people tracking within the museum, (2) rewards/incentives, (3) pop-up exhibits,  (4) space & context, and (5) visitor intervention.

Of these five groupings, we chose three to use for co-creation sessions with new and returning interviewees. Ideas in these groups included making parts of exhibits only visible through the use of special ‘keys’ (i.e. the angle of viewing position or polarized glasses) creating filters that could add or remove layers of information for visitors, and a passive tracking system that would output a personalized souvenir for visitors based on where they spent their time during their museum visit (i.e. if they spent the most time with the Mona Lisa, then perhaps they would receive a poster of the Mona Lisa).

Through the co-creation sessions, we developed some of these concepts further. The polarized glasses prompted discussions about other ways that information could be filtered for museum visitors and a museum administrator let us know that her museum would be extremely interested in using people tracking to generate heat maps to better understand where people are spending the most time.

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