Museums and digital humanities: from the divide to the bridges

In recent times, many (well, maybe not so many!) projects have been announced, introducing Digital Humanities in museums. Slowly but surely, museums are decreasing the divide that separates them from the digital tools.

F. no Lisboa Story Center Foto: MIR, 2014.

F. no Lisboa Story Center
Foto: MIR, 2014.

Slowly, it began with the collections register databases; slowly, it proceeded with the websites creation; more recently and even more hardly, digital projects have been produced, generally, in articulation with technological companies for which museums used to provide support to their experimental development. Nowadays, digital technology and new communication ways, such as social networks, are allowing museums to establish a permanent contact with their visitors, receiving their feedback in real time.

Internet and smart technology have been made accessible to everyone and become part of their everyday lives. So museums tend to create links, not only with their real public, as to the potential and virtual ones. In the meantime, the proliferation of mobile devices, is been grasped to deliver extra contents about the exhibition, the collection, the objects on display or in the reserves… Slowly, but firmly, digital has been occupying an increasingly central role in museum activities.

Digital divide is broken.

Utilização de recursos de Humanidades Digitais no Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Foto: MIR, 2014.

Utilização de recursos de Humanidades Digitais no Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Foto: MIR, 2014.

Nevertheless, numerous gaps remain, calling a wider community – curators, academics, cultural mediators – to debate the role of Digital Humanities.

There are projects, situations, case studies, which constitute an empirical assessment of digital technology in museums.  While museums are investing in technologies to make the museum experience more interactive, we may miss out on a great opportunity to analyse and discuss the results of all of these projects. There are many projects, but few scientific research about them. Above all the speculations and provisional or unproved hypotheses, critical process reviews are required to analyse and understand how digital humanities are being applied in museums. Theorizing about this phenomenon seems to be the next step.

Gaps will be filled.

Cite this article as: Roque, Maria Isabel, "Museums and digital humanities: from the divide to the bridges," in a.muse.arte , 2016/04/08, https://amusearte.hypotheses.org/1271.

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