Wednesday, 6 April 2016




In her post What to Wear During Wartime: 'Fashion on the Ration', Mallory Horrill tackled a question all museums have faced: how do we engage visitors?

While visiting the exhibit Fashion on the Ration at the Imperial War Museum, Mallory observed that some visitors were slightly disengaged with the subject matter of "fashion". In trying to increase their attendance, museums need to figure out ways to engage new audiences, and Mallory suggests the use of audio and video aids. I agree with what Mallory suggested; however, I think that museums should not be limited to the use of audio and video aids to create new and engaging experiences. There are many new technologies being produced that can facilitate visitor interactions, while at the same time increasing visitor engagement. This is seen in the Star Wars Identities Exhibit that is currently touring the globe.


The Star Wars Identities Exhibit was displayed at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, in Ottawa (summer 2013). I was hesitant to visit this exhibit, mostly because I am not a huge Star Wars fan.  I had seen the Star Wars movies, but I was worried that I would be confused or worse -- bored. In retrospect, I had nothing to worry about.

Visitors were provided with a hands-free audio guide that incorporated infrared technology, making the exhibit's audio-visual content accessible to visitors of all languages. The exhibit then surpassed my expectations by letting visitors create their own realistic Star Wars hero based on the visitors' responses to pre-set questions.

Before entering the exhibit, I was given an RFID bracelet, which tracked my progress throughout the exhibit. The exhibit had various stations that asked visitors questions about what type of Star Wars hero they wanted to develop. These questions tackled key building blocks of an individual's identity such as: species, genres, parents, culture, mentors, friends, events, personality and values. To answer each question, I would tap my RFID bracelet with my selected answer. All of my answers shaped my character, and in turn created my own unique Star Wars hero.

Hayley Mae Jones' Star Wars Identities Character - Published with X3 Production's Permission
At the end of the process, I had to select whether or not I would join the "dark side".  I chose to resist the "dark side", and fight against the Emperor.  My character was then  displayed on a giant screen for all visitors to see, and I was also able send myself an email with my character and character information. 

It was such a popular exhibit that its stay at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum was extended by over a month. This exhibit is a significant example of how museums can go beyond the traditional audio and visual aids by using technology creatively. It also shows how new and innovative technologies can engage visitors in an unexpected way.  Hopefully we will continue to see more unique applications of technology in the future. 

Comment bellow if you know of any other exhibits that use innovative technology to engage visitors!

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