Who thinks of “Xanten”, thinks of “Romans”. At the end of November, international representatives of archaeological museums convened at the LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten in Germany to talk about the use of digital media in museums. The conference focused on the use of digital media for knowledge transfer in museums. It was clear enough that digitizing content enfolds a whole new world of possibilities. For example; the Neanderthal Museum discussed a digital game for smartphones that uses only sound. Developed for blind people, it’s a very inclusive approach, which can be of interest for museums everywhere.
But going digital has a much larger effect on your museum than just changing the way you present your story. You will also get a lot more transverse relations between departments within your museum.
The tour past the reconstructed buildings in the LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten, led by Peter Kienzle, was particularly informative as he discussed the changed attitude towards full size reconstruction, and how digital techniques open up a new set of options. The most important thing is to always remain honest about choices made, sometimes in a distant past. What may work in one museum at a given time, may fail elsewhere in another time.
The conference was a very welcome occasion to see where many archaeological museums stand in the process of digitisation; a subject which will become more important to many colleagues in the near future.
Conference participants were excited about the speed of developments: Microsoft’s HoloLens 1 is already obsolete before we have a chance to start working with its successor. It is clear that making good use of our imagination and developing a well thought-through strategy is the best way forward. Today’s expensive options can be mainstream tomorrow.