Disneyfication / McDonaldisation of the museum

One of the questions I might ask of my research into a technological platform that links objects in multiple museums is who the audience is for the platform. Is it researchers / historians and / or pursuers of “serious leisure”? Or is it the casual tourist who wants to see a cultural trail as part of their vacation? This is discussed in Balloffet et al (2014) who cite Chaumier (in French, I believe, so it might be difficult to follow up on his writing) as saying that the idea of museums becoming like amusement parks is “provocative” and “absurd”. The two institutions, if we can call them that, are “diametrically opposed”.

The paper mentions that just as museums are becoming more “innovative, lively environments that include recreational experiences in order to mediate content that is perceived as serious”, amusement parks are “including more content that is culturally rich.”

From early on, the idea of discreet technological augmentation rather than pervasive / invasive augmentation is what I have been focusing on. Not bells and whistles. Though there is a part of me that would like to open up the possibilities of museum interaction with children, and in that case an element of Disney is likely to be unavoidable. Perhaps another reason for the discreet augmentation is that it is cheaper to roll out on a multi-museum basis, which is what I aim to do.

What do I mean by discreet augmentation? I mean that the museum visitor would not be distracted by any augmentation – at least not too much. For example, the addition of tags or barcodes should be discreet. Perhaps you make it clear in the main lobby area or in the brochure that the feature is supported, and then let the tags / barcodes melt away into the background. Otherwise, the augmentation is entirely discreet, in the guise of a mobile app or a website. There could be an argument, I suppose, that lots of people with mobile devices in a museum would be distracting and in that sense not so discreet, but the mobile devices are not a fixture in the museum.

Bibliography

Balloffet, P., Courvoisier, F.H., Lagier, J., 2014. From Museum to Amusement Park: The Opportunities and Risks of Edutainment. International Journal of Arts Management 16, 4–18,66–67.

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