Turn on, tune in, drop out: Multimedia, community-museum partnerships, and exhibit development
Museums, once based on elite knowledge and education for the affluent, have evolved into the role of cultural stewards and community partners in a multicultural world. Charged with the care of objects and artifacts that represent cultural identities, museums have a unique position in society as guardians, teachers, and peers; active movers and shakers in the cultural present. The first goal of this master’s research project is to investigate the dynamic relationship between museums and community identity in order to explore and identify the role museums play in the process of identity construction, and what issues are confronted when representing culture. The second focus of this project is to investigate how the use of multimedia technologies in exhibit development, and exhibit development itself, can support the museum-community relationship and address issues of awareness, access, authenticity, authority, and action. This research will set out to understand how museums can better incorporate communities in the development of exhibits using multimedia tools, specifically new media tools, and what the benefits of using a mixed media approach are. An in‐depth literature review as well as formal and informal case studies are presented, serving as real‐world examples of the concepts and theories presented throughout the research; providing a the framework for understanding the current museum professional climate as well as the trends found in arts and culture academia. The findings of this project will attempt to provide an articulation of the role of museums in modern society with regards to the construction of community identity and cultural representation. Then, a set of recommendations will be presented that provide practical instruction for small museums in the 21st century when developing exhibits related to issues of identity and cultural representation. Analysis, findings, and recommendations will include a review of the ways new media tools can be used to inform exhibit development and facilitate the public’s participation in this museum process, as well as provide an exhibit development approach to multimedia management that supports exhibit processes.