ReImagining Children’s Museums: Technology in the next 10-20 years

Posted by on May 9, 2012 in TechMuse Blog, Technology and Museums, The Museum Learning Experience, World Connections | 0 comments

In the ReImagining session, we’re projecting 10-20 years down the road.  Right now we can imagine technology in the next three years(social/mobile, augmented reality). The next five years is hazy (artificial intelligence?), 10 years is total science fiction. And 20 years??

Here are some trends I’m aware of:

–Programs vs. exhibits. The real work of children’s museums will be in programs rather than exhibits.  We see signs of this shift already — for example the Experimonth programs at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, led by Beck Tench, explores topics with with their online visitors over the course of the month such as haiku and raw food diets. And the term “popup exhibits” is on the radar, aiming toward simple to setup and move exhibits used in temporary public spaces.

–Smart applications. I’m reminded of a webcast with futurist Gary Golden in which he brought up the topic of “smart data”.  This might be a variation of a SalesForce-like program, re-engineered so that instead of focusing on moving customers along a sales pipeline, it moves members along a play/learning pipeline (maybe “PlayForce?”  Maybe not).

–Global connections. We’ve long felt the world becoming more interconnected, but in 10-20 years, this is much more visceral and real.  Our extended social families, friends we’re familiar with, are around the world. We can see through their eyes. Children’s Museums have long been a leader in cultural learning and we’ll be uniquely situated to shape technology toward fostering positive global connections.

–Human/machine interface and artificial intelligence will have evolved to the point where boundaries between us and others, and ourselves and machines, will blur.  Think “google goggles” + more membranes. (We may have digital replicas of ourselves out in the world seeking experiences to bring back to our original selves). Whoa.

Shaping this all, children’s museums have a visitor-centered mission at their core that will guide technologies, perhaps better than other types of museums — a focus on play, learning, and making a difference in our communities.

(So, what did I miss?)



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