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The Museum, version 2.0

A recent article in the Huffington Post, written by Arianna Huffington herself, has ignited a debate about museums and technology.

Huffington, a self-proclaimed “evangelist for new media” admits to feeling “oddly reticent” about museums using social media to reach out to its audience. “That’s because museums deliver what has become increasingly rare in our world: the opportunity to disconnect from our hyper-connected lives, and the possibility of wonder,” she reasons.

She refers to another article in the New York Times, by Edward Rothstein, that deals with Museums’ apps. Apps help visitors get information and interact with the works on display, but Rothstein argues that, “The app isolates objects rather than connecting them.”

But these technologies can help attract audiences. Judith H. Dobrzynski, of Real Clear Arts, points out that new media can also attract donors. Dobrzynski’s article focuses “Clickistan“, a new online game at the Whitney Museum that was created to raise money for the museum.

Lee Rosenbaum, of Culture Grrl, acknowledges that reaching out to younger audiences “probably does mean tech-ing up.” The Culture Grrl also directs our attention to the response given by Nina Simon, the Museum 2.0 blogger. Simon tells Huffpost that, “new tools, especially those that personalize and democratiz­e the experience­, help more people have those peak experience­s with art and culture.”

For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art offers several digital tools at MetShare to help visitors “enhance [their] understanding of and appreciation for works of art in its collection, and to connect with and share their experiences with others.” But what about photos and other reproduction of the works in museums? Nina Simon at the Museum 2.0 blog has written about photo policies in museums and intellectual property rights.

The next issue for art lawyers will be what legal consequences these technologies will have.

[Image: Reuters/handout/Toura]