A new reality

Nicola Sullivan, 27.01.2016
How new technology is transforming the cultural sector
There were many things that made the Museum Association’s (MA) Museum Tech 2016: A Digital Festival for Museums a memorable event.

Not only did it take place in the incredible Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester it also gave delegates the chance to experience some of the newest technologies that are rapidly shaping the sector in which they work.

I particularly enjoyed picking up 3D-printed artefacts and peeling away the layers of an Egyptian mummy that had been scanned using state of the art medical and scientific imaging equipment.

The packed schedule of fascinating and varied presentations really illustrated how technology is changing common preconceptions around what constitutes a museum’s role, function and even its physical boundaries.

Good, Form & Spectacle’s prototype of Museum in a Box – a case of 3D-printed objects from museums around the world – is one example of how technology is dramatically changing the ways in which people experience and access culture.  

Being able to handle all the artefacts is something of a novelty, immediately changing people's relationship to the objects and their history.

The Natural History Museum revealed how it worked to create a world in which sea creatures that existed more than 500 million years ago swim in front of your eyes. It was fascinating learn how the museum worked with Atlantic Productions to create the fully immersive First Life virtual reality experience, endorsed by David Attenborough.

It was also fascinating to hear about how Sheringham Museum is using open source technology including Raspberry Pis to transform the visitor experience. The museum has used this inexpensive technology to create a touchscreen, play oral history recordings through an old rotary dial phone and create motion-triggered sound effects.  

I cant wait to find out about the further ways in which technology is transforming the sector at the MA’s next tech event.