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Lecture Series

Exhibiting Asia in the 21st Century


The Digital Museum and the Evolving Promise of Digitization

Sunday, November 3, 2 pm
Sebastian Chan, director of digital and emerging media, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Open the doors of treasure-filled museum storage rooms on your desktop monitor with the click of a mouse. As you stroll through a gallery, enhance your visit with a handheld device that drills down through dynamic layers of information on exhibited works. Plan exhibitions with curators half a world away in the 24/7 cycle of instant access. Give the gift of culture to a population distant from urban centers. These are only a few of the many baseline promises touted as the future for museums via the magic of digitization. During the past decade, museums of all persuasions have invested substantially in equipment and programs in a self-imposed race to relevance and in fear of being left behind. Some practitioners think that the first wild sprint in this race is over and it is time to catch our collective breaths. What is working and why? What are some unexpected discoveries—for better and for worse—as we assess where we are as museums embracing the digital world?

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A viewer takes in the Pure Land digital cave. ©ALiVE, CityU, and Dunhuang Academy