From the New Media Consortium:
Selected by an international expert panel of museum thought leaders, six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in technology are identified across three adoption horizons over the next five years, giving museum leaders and staff a valuable guide for strategic technology planning. The format of the report provides in-depth insight into how trends and challenges are accelerating and impeding the adoption of educational and interpretive technology at museums, along with their implications for policy, leadership, and practice.
“In this year’s report it is notable that museums are continuing to place mobile devices at the center of their engagement strategies,” says Alex Freeman, Editor of the NMC Horizon Report > Museum Edition. “We’ve identified several topics that leverage mobiles for museum education and interpretation in significant ways. Participatory experiences, location intelligence, and accessibility for disabled population are some of the ways that these devices are generating actionable data and further personalizing the museum experience. These approaches are not only informing the development of digital strategies, but impacting the type of training and skills needed by museum professionals over the next five years.”
“The NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Museum Edition provides unique instruction and guidance for museums who want to understand the evolving needs and expectations of our audiences from a global perspective,” notes Nik Honeysett, Chief Executive Officer of BPOC. “Addressing the trends, challenges, key developments for technology adoption, as well as policy considerations, ensures the field is comprehensively armed with the tools and knowledge to be successful.”
Key Trends Accelerating Museum Technology Adoption
The NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Museum Edition identifies “Mobile Content and Delivery” and “Participatory Experiences” as being short-term, accelerating the adoption of educational and interpretive technology in museums over the next one to two years. “Data Analytics for Museum Operations” and “Personalization” are mid-term trends, expected to drive technology use over the next three to five years; meanwhile, “Cross-Institutional Collaboration” and the “New Roles for Museum Professionals” have been identified as trends with long-term impact, anticipated to shape cultural heritage institutions for the next five years or more.
Significant Challenges Impeding Museum Technology Adoption
A number of challenges are acknowledged as barriers to the mainstream use of technology in museums. “Developing Effective Digital Strategies” and “Improving Digital Literacy of Museum Professionals” are perceived as solvable challenges — those which we both understand and know how to solve. “Improving Accessibility for Disabled Populations” and “Measuring the Impact of New Technologies” are considered difficult challenges, which are defined and well understood but with solutions that are elusive. Described as wicked challenges are “Managing Knowledge Obsolescence” and “Privacy Concerns,” which are complex to define, much less to address.
Important Developments in Educational and Interpretive Technology for Museums
Additionally, the report identifies digital humanities technologies and makerspaces as digital strategies and technologies expected to enter mainstream use in the near-term horizon of one year or less. Location intelligence and virtual reality are seen in the mid-term horizon of two to three years; information visualization and networked objects are seen emerging in the far-term horizon of four to five years.
The subject matter in this report was identified through a qualitative research process designed and conducted by the NMC that engaged an international body of experts in museums, technology, business, and other fields around a set of research questions designed to surface significant trends and challenges and to identify emerging technologies with a strong likelihood of adoption in the cultural heritage sector. The NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Museum Edition details the areas in which these experts were in strong agreement.
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