Danny Birchall, Issue 115/05, p14, 01.05.2015
Let’s slow it down a little
We owe it to ourselves to slow down a little, to pause, take stock and reflect.

Museums often seem like natural places for contemplation: whether of art or social history, our exhibitions are built to reward dawdling and solicit second glances.
Perhaps we should slow down even more. Last month’s Slow Art Day encouraged participants to look at just five works of art in a single visit.

Digital in museums often fulfils a complementary role: making them accessible to those who are time-poor, offering titbits and chatter through social channels and short bursts of online content.

To many critics, this digital buzz is a threat to the soul of museums, puncturing their tranquillity. Sometimes it seems as if the only slow thing about museum digital projects is getting them signed off in the first place.

Perhaps we ought to think more about what would happen if we slowed our digital products down a bit, asked a little more of our online audiences and gave a little more too.

For example, the Victoria & Albert Museum’s London Recruits documentary about
the anti-apartheid struggle takes over both your browser pop-ups and your time. And Hull History Centre’s HullCraft invites users to recreate Hull’s architectural landscape in online game Minecraft.
If we looked to ventures such as these for inspiration, our digital audiences might
turn out to appreciate an unhurried approach as much as our visitors.

Danny Birchall is the Wellcome Collection’s digital manager