Museology Master of Arts Program

November 28, 2017

Museums & Technology: First Steps Forward

It’s the hottest of hot-button topics in the museum field. Some professionals have long been involved in its evolution, while others are only just trying to comprehend how technology can be integrated into their museums and museum practice.

This Fall Quarter, Museology offered a new course that introduced students to this growing field – MUS.588 Museums & Technology: What’s Now, What’s Next. The goal was to provide students with broad insights on topics such as technology’s influences on audience experience, learning and engagement, as well as its feasibility, scalability, and sustainability. Each class presented the topic in terms of its potential and its challenges; the opportunities technology bring forth and the issues that arise with its adoption.

Christina DePaolo , Rich Cherry, and Lath Carlson (left to right).

Panelists Christina DePaolo, Rich Cherry, and Lath Carlson (left to right), speaking in the Museums & Technology class.

Organized as a speaker-series, this five-part course featured museum professionals, researchers, and technologists. We pulled expertise from across the country and from our own backyard…literally, UW campus. From David Jones, Executive Producer at Microsoft Envisioning, students learned about where technology investments are being made and the problems technology aims to solve. University of Washington Ph.D. candidates shared the work they have been doing in the fields of data curation, digitization, and youth/family learning. Jack Ludden of The Getty, Lath Carlson, Executive Director at Living Computer Museums+Labs, and Dana Allen-Greil from The National Archives were just some of the museum professionals who shared their experience on topics ranging from organizational readiness (for technology adoption) to what technology looks like in museums, and how technology can help museums engage a world of virtual visitors. Rich Cherry, Chief Operating Officer of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and Christina DePaolo from 4Culture joined Lath to close our course with a “between two ferns” conversation. Along with sharing their technology philosophies and strategies for decision-making, speakers encouraged students to become technology evangelists, be selfless with their gained knowledge, and if possible, plan for a “shiny object fund” to explore the use, value and pitfalls of technology before investing and scaling up.

Museums & Technology Class photoWith over 40 students enrolled this quarter—from Museology, History, the iSchool, and HCDE, it was clear there is interest in the subject matter, and Museology is excited to announce a ‘reboot’ of this course in Fall 2018.

As someone who spent 10 years working at Microsoft and another decade in the museum field, I can definitively say that my worlds have collided. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to develop a course that speaks to the next generation of museum professionals, and look forward to seeing how these ideas, questions, and challenges percolate into their museum thinking and future practice.

Angie Ong, Museology faculty