Shattering Barriers, Commemorating Selves: Digital Technology in Service to Modern Museum Communities

Lightning Talk
Stan Trembach, Univ. of South Carolina, USA

As stewards of human culture and history, museums are inseparably linked to the notion of memory. Although historians and museum practitioners have tended to distinguish history and memory by their distinct functions, the divisive line between the two has blurred over time, spurred in large measure by the proliferation of digital technologies. Thus, the function of modern museums is much more than merely to encapsulate the past through collections of historically and culturally valuable artifacts. Rather, the calling of today’s cultural institutions is to educate and instill in visitors a new type of historical consciousness—thinking in terms of commemoration, whereby memory and identity are transmitted through generations as intertwined and almost tangible entities. Digital technology has been increasingly viewed as one of the key facilitators of this process—so much so that museums can hardly maintain their relevance in contemporary society unless they fully embrace technological innovation to preserve the heritage that otherwise would be lost both mentally and physically.

This presentation is designed for museum administrators, curators, educators, and anyone interested in acquiring a conceptual and practical understanding of the interplay between memory, technology, and community education in preserving the riches of human culture. Apart from practical examples, the participants will gain insights into how museums need to change the existing policies and practices to enable open engagement with their collections for a variety of audiences. Finally, the author hopes that his practice-based research will serve to inform curatorial practices of those working with individual and community experiences captured through pervasive digital technology.

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