When walking into a museum today, you are very likely to come across a few interactive exhibits, depending on the museum’s budget and location. Flipping virtual books, seeing ancient soldiers battle, and viewing projections of art is the basis of the new museum experience. Why is that?
When you visit a museum or gallery, you are often faced with several exhibits that do not, for the lack of a better word, speak to you. There are guides, of course, but with the generation that gets easily bored with anything that doesn’t move, it is easy to see why the museum experience has to evolve with the times. Interactive exhibits make the dead relics of the past come to life. From being simply a story with no characters that are relatable, important works, moves, and thoughts of the past are at risk of being lost forever.
One might argue that this is the problem of the current generation and their sheer inability to fully appreciate the magnitude of the knowledge and the expansion of the world, but there might be more to it that it meets the eye. This age is, whether we like it or not, one that is focused on marketing. Consider this, if you will: there are several music pieces that would be completely lost on the previous generations had they not been implemented in the popular media at the time, like movies and cartoons. If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.
Any historian, curator, or even a librarian will know that the items that are several hundreds of years old (not to mention the older ones) are likely to start falling apart due to time. Books decompose, paintings get damaged, and the artifacts rot. Simply being exposed to air and sunlight is enough to irreversibly damage some of the most valuable insights into history.
Interactive exhibits that use holograms and games may give the idea behind the relic in question, without it being exposed to the eyes and, in some unfortunate cases, the fingers of eager visitors. If you believe that this diminished the experience of visiting a museum, seeing as how you can look at pictures and movies at home, you should be made aware that museums and galleries have been known to put on fake exhibits to prevent damage to the originals.
Imagine seeing a skeleton of a dinosaur. Admittedly, this is an impressive site in its own right. However, picture yourself looking at your phone and scanning the exhibit. You could see a group of raptors honing in on their prey, for example.
Another way this could enhance your viewing pleasure is if you were to visit, say, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and their Heroes and Legends exhibit, where you can witness with your own eyes the misfortune of the second spacewalk in history. There is nothing quite like watching Gene Cernan struggling to get back into his Gemini 9 space capsule with the actual capsule standing a few feet away from you. It is, truly, a magnificent site that takes you in the middle of the action, as if you were really there. We dare to argue that the museum experience has been nothing but enriched by projects such as these.