University of Cambridge > > Homerton Seminars > Tell me the story of this artefact: democratising interpretation processes through innovative museum displays

Tell me the story of this artefact: democratising interpretation processes through innovative museum displays

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Today we are used to “conceiving and presenting objects as always incomplete, even useless, without the (textual) provision of associated data and interpretations” (H. Dudley), and this underestimates the possibilities inherent in objects’ material, sensorially perceptible characteristics (i.e., affordances) for understanding the meaning and function of objects in the past. Following this argument, in this paper I attempt to show that virtual or real interactions with copies of original artefacts can augment museum experiences because 3D digital or printed replicas allow museum visitors to form an intimate relationship with museum objects, including objects they are not allowed to physically manipulate. This study builds on the results of recent surveys aimed at exploring how people perceive ancient artifacts presented through different media (visual examination of original objects, interaction with 3D digital replicas, tactile experience with 3D prints). The results of this research suggest that traditional museum practices, which see textual or similar provisions as necessary a priori for a valuable learning experience in a museum, can be modified, so that the physical experience with artefacts becomes intimate a priori. Further, virtual and/or tactile manipulation of artefacts’ replicas allows museum visitors to freely create their own narratives of the past. As a result, museum visitors become more intrigued with the stories of museum objects and more critically engaged with expert interpretations proposed a posteriori. I end this paper by offering ideas on alternative exhibition practices that integrate traditional museum settings and 3D replicas to enhance museum experiences.

This talk is part of the Homerton Seminars series.

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