New Media Interactivity in the Museum: Democratisation or Dumbing Down?

By Ingrid Templer.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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.

Keywords: New Media, Interactivity, Museum

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.165-178. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.315MB).

Ms Ingrid Templer

Director, Academic Planning, Greenside Design Center, Johhanesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

I co-founded Greenside Design Center with Professor Laubscher in 1987. Greenside Design Center offers BA and BA Honours degrees in interior, graphic and multimedia design and is a member of Cumulus, IFI and ICOGRADA, all international organisations. I lecture in the Interior Design department as well as leading the team that develops and quality assures all programmes offered by Greenside Design Center. Prior to founding Greenside Design Center I lectured in the Interior Design department at the Technikon Witwatersrand which is now a part of the University of Johannesburg. Along with lecturing I have free lanced as a graphic and interior designer but my passion is education. After completing a BA Honours degree in Fine Arts I completed a Higher Education diploma and am currently completing a Masters degree in Visual Arts at the University of Pretoria. Apart from education, my interests are psychology and phenomenology.

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