Museum Making: Creating with Emerging Technologies in Art Museums

Paper
Desi Gonzalez, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Published paper: Museum making: Creating with emerging technologies in art museums

Hackathons, startup incubators, maker spaces, and innovation labs: these terms are common to the world of tech, but they have recently appeared on museum websites and in press releases. The last few years have witnessed a wave of art museum initiatives that invite audiences—from casual visitors to professional artists and technologists—to take the reigns of creative production through experimentation with digital media and fabrication technologies.

Where is this interest in engaging audiences with hands-on, technological creation coming from? And how are museums, which might lack the necessary funding and technical know-how to work with new technologies, able to make these initiatives happen? This presentation is informed by the extensive historical and ethnographic research I have conducted for my master’s thesis in comparative media studies at MIT. Case studies include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Art + Technology Lab, a program that awards artist grants and mentorship from individuals and technology companies such as Google, DAQRI, and the Jet Propulson Lab to develop art projects and artistic research; the Peabody Essex Museum’s Maker Lounge, an in-gallery space in which visitors are invited to tinker with high and low technologies; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Media Lab, a section of the Digital Media department that invites both visitors and artists to experiment with new technologies through programs such as three-dimensional printing workshops and hackathons.

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