Thursday, January 6, 2011

Does technology really work in museums?

After reading the article Museums 2.0: What Happens When Great Art Meets New Media? I have to wonder if technology will ever really work with museums. There is something to be said for actually going to a museum and experiencing the artwork for yourself. Now while I have never been to any super prestigious museum such as the MoMA or the Corcoran, I have been to view different shows when they have been at the Speed in Louisville and there is definitely a difference in just seeing a picture of a painting and seeing the painting for yourself.
This article gives several examples of how technology is already being used in museums such as audio tours and videos being played near the works of art and I personally do not see any problems with those forms of technology being used in the actual museums themselves. The problem comes when museums begin to have the tours online for people to see the artwork online and people do not feel the need to actually go to the museum any longer. One of the ongoing debates in my History of Modern Art class this semester was whether or not many of the students in the class liked Rothko's artwork with the student who really appreciated his artwork saying that you just had to experience it for yourself. I personally am not a fan of Rothko but maybe if I had gone to the Rothko's chapel and seen it for myself as opposed to just seeing pictures online I would feel differently. So many different sculptures and paintings can only be experienced in person because they are just too large to get a feel of through the computer screen.
It's sad when museums are being reduced to a Facebook layout of being able to comment on different paintings and clicking the "like" button along with millions of other people.


Mexifem said...

Interesting article. I tend to agree with you and the author of the article- that digital resources are great and at times, very helpful (especially for those of us teaching). But, at the end of the day, there is no substitute for the experience of viewing a work of art firsthand and the kind of remove from the rest of the world that it affords us (perhaps this is related to the "swoon" effect mentioned on the blog before).

Thanks for sharing, Weezie!

Earl Grey said...

I am so glad that you posted this article, Weezie. And, I appreciate your comments, particularly the comparison with the Rothko Chapel. While I've not been there, I do feel that being in a certain place when viewing art can and does make a difference to the experience. This is even in addition to the first-hand viewing over virtual viewing.

I question if technology, in general, is "the good", "the bad", or "the ugly". Perhaps it's a bit of all three! Reminds me of one of our readings from Curatorial Studies on the Virtual Museum.

Thanks for sharing!

art gal said...

As a self-proclaimed technology and Web 2.0 skeptic, especially as concerns experiencing great works of art, I wholeheartedly agree with Weezie and my colleagues' comments. During docent trainings and guided tours, I always try to point out that engaging with art "in the flesh" is far superior to off-site viewing because at least two important visual elements--texture and scale--are not readily apparent in photographic reproductions, either digital or printed. And, I concur: to fully appreciate a Rothko, you need to be in the same room with it!