Thesis Emerging Findings and Contribution to the Field: Implementing Digital Interactives in Art Museums

Leah Gelb ’15
Through examining visitor research studies written by scholars like Falk and Dierking in my Literature Review, I plan to apply my thesis findings to the bedrock theory that visitors enter a museum with different motivations, learning styles, inclinations, and preferences. Having established and identified the various types and clusters of visitors, I can then move on to evaluating the concept of digital interactive incorporation into art museums, and how to measure whether such visitor tendencies are being addressed.
Throughout my research, I could not help but notice that various museums are creating positions and departments in their administration for digital interactive strategists. Clearly, this trend is reflective of the digital age mentioned in my previous post, and is responsive to contemporary societal needs. Yet how does a museum begin to establish a department completely devoted to something so new that we have yet to learn its implications? What steps in research does the museum need to take, and how does the new department interact with the others that surround it?
These questions were exactly what I had in mind this past week when I met with the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Audience Research Manager and their newly appointed Associate Director of Interactive Technology for an interview. My findings were that it is crucial for a developing digital initiative to meet with surrounding museum departments throughout the entire process of digital interactive installation in a museum. It is through the collaboration of such departments that the position of digital strategist can set goals and objectives for specific interactive endeavors in the museum. It is the evaluator’s job in this case, to make sure that such goals are measurable and achievable, and that prospective digital projects are focused on meeting them.

Such findings are immediately and directly applicable to the museum field, as they are timely and in tune with contemporary museum trends. It will be interesting to see how museums employ such digital strategist positions in the future, and whether or not they will apply discipline and focus to their upcoming interactive projects.