Gallery and museums considerations for digital technology – participating in your experience

Recently I have had the pleasure to work with some Melbourne based galleries and museums in their approach to including young people in sharing their experiences. In thinking about participation and listening to young people’s voice about their experiences considerations have been made about digital technologies.

Digital technologies are beginning to play a vital role in the work of galleries including on websites, the introduction of handheld devices to capture exhibitions or used in gallery displays, and many are using digital technology in innovative ways to support visitor experiences (Chamberlain, 2011; McIntyre, & Murphy, 2011; Johnson, Adams & Witchey, 2011). Devices, interfaces and the connection with websites are becoming more embedded, and networked, and are thus changing the experience of visiting galleries (Johnson, Adams & Witchey, 2011; Dixon, 2011). In their nature, the interaction with digital technologies offers and provides more flexible and personalized information and encourages interaction and discussion between visitors, gallery staff and artists (Becker, 1995; O’Brien, Djusipov & Wittlin, 2007).

The impact of these changes for gallery education staff in these settings is allowing for new and innovative exploration (Chamberlain, 2011).  Digital technology is challenging the way gallery education programs (public programs and school programs) support exploration and discovery especially with the development of mobile technology. This way of working and engaging with meaning making has become very important to galleries and many are exploring how digital and communication technologies can be developed to offer visitors a more interactive, personalised museum experience (Chamberlain, 2011; Dixon, 2011). As McIntrye & Murphy (2011) reiterate, galleries are now actively concentrated on enriching the:

 ‘total museum experience’ for visitors…increasingly museums and galleries are tailoring new kinds of social experience for visitors to exhibitions, targeting additional needs of a more motivated public expecting leisure amenities as well as entertaining experiences when visiting. (p. 4)

Expectations from the public and new found confidence from professionals in the gallery space to engage with digital technologies, and especially handheld devices, support depth to investigation and exploration alongside the atmosphere and energy to the 21st century gallery experience (Chamberlain, 2011). Digital interactive technologies are important resources for engaging visitors in exhibits and more generally in galleries as a whole however, there are relatively few studies that examine how visitors, both alone and with others, use new technologies when exploring gallery content (Ross, 2011).

I’m wondering, how do you think museums and galleries can extend their use of digital technologies to enhace your visit and experience? What experinces have you has already with interactive and mobile technolgies during a visit?


Becker, H., S. 1995. Visual Sociology, Documentary Photography, and Journalism: It’s (Almost) All a Matter of Context. Visual Sociology, 10 (2), 5-14.

Chamberlain, G. (Ed.). (2011). Interactive Galleries: Digital technology, handheld interpretation and online experiences. England and Wales: Museum Identity.

Dixon, M. (2011). Why we need to listen to kids. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from

Johnson, L., Adams, S., and Witchey, H. (2011). The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 Museum Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

McIntyre, D. & Murphy, B. (2011). Museums Australia 2011: Submission to Commonwealth Inquiry on National Broadband Network (NBN) Rollout.  Museums Australia Submission to Commonwealth Inquiry into the National Broadband Network (NBN). Canberra: House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications.

O’Brien, V., Djusipov, K., & Wittlin, F. (November, 2007). Visible voices, shared worlds: using digital video and photography in pursuit of a better life. Paper presented at the meeting of Social Interaction and Mundane Technologies Conference SIMTECH 07, Melbourne, Australia.

Ross, C. (2011). Are digital technologies creating engaging visitor experiences? Retrieved January 10, 2012, from


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