On a new threshold: experiments in gaming, retail and performance design to shape museum entrances
Ross Parry, University of Leicester, UK , Alex Moseley, University of Leicester, UK, Erik Kristiansen, Roskilde University, Denmark
Even as museums continue to push content out to the network and support experiences at a distance, the threshold to the physical museum endures as a highly visible and symbolic space, where trust and expectations are built, protocols established and affordances noticed. But, today, are these threshold spaces still fit for purpose? Is the use of media within these spaces appropriate for modern modes of visiting? Are the informational metaphors (such as the architectural plan) sensitive to today’s media literacies? Does visitor connectivity suggest new types of encounter? And does visitors’ experience of playing, buying, discovering and learning in other parts of their lives point to alternative means of scaffolding the museum threshold event? Drawing upon the work of two connected research projects (in the UK and Denmark) this paper shows how museum threshold media might be influenced usefully by other sectors that (arguably) have more evolved concepts and practices around ‘threshold’, ‘orientation’ and ‘initiation’ – specifically retail, gaming and performance. The paper will also explain how three experimental media interventions (using these new conceptual lenses) were tested within three real museum contexts – the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (London), New Walk Museum and Art Gallery (Leicester) and Chatsworth House (Bakewell, Derbyshire). Finally, the paper concludes by rethinking the idea of museum ‘threshold’ (defined, instead, by intention and action rather than physical parameters, perhaps more by time rather than space), and ends by reflecting upon the influence that the web is having on the conceptualisation, strategic use and design of our physical museum entrances.