Inclusivity Practices and the Real Role of Technology in Museums

Paper

Wided Rihana Khadraoui, Art Processors , USA

“What institutions hang on their walls or put on their pedestals is a clear articulation of who they imagine their audience to be.” (d’Souza 2018).

American art institutions have long centered on whiteness or catered to white audiences and have not made significant inroads in shifting that narrative. Due to a matrix of colonial narrative practices, disingenuous policies, and an ineffective response to a rapidly shifting demographic, museums remain out of touch and disconnected in the United States. There is a growing awareness of a lack of diversity among both museum stakeholders and audiences, and technology has been touted as a savior for institutions. Yet, technology is ineffective within the current context.

Only by employing the power of diverse narratives can art museums then utilize technology to play a formative role in generating new audiences through digital engagement. The paper also attempts to counter the usual challenge in scholarly research—its inability to provide practical, solution-based policies by moving beyond problematizing. The talk will conclude with a look into Curated x Kai as a successful case study. Curated x Kai is an organization that used VR to create representative and inclusive field trips for students. The platform reworks the purpose and definition of a museum and what that “space” means in the contemporary sense. The platform utilizes technology to provide inclusive opportunities and increased accessibility in cultural institutions for students and young adults.

The solution for genuine inclusion is simple—it relies on the basic idea of “nothing about us, without us.” Cultural theorist Stuart Hall expanded the scope of cultural studies to also include race and gender, which are critical in the context of a traditional museum space. Cultural institutions need to first look at the structural barriers that exist and are currently preventing them from internally diversifying, before implementing technology as a solution.

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