Editors’ note: We congratulate Ginger Daley (MA, 2019) on the publication of her article, Visitor-Centered Museums: Surviving the 21st Century in the Summer 2020 volume of the peer-edited journal Museum Scholar: Theory and Practice. Ginger was the graduate speaker at the December 2019 University of San Francisco Commencement ceremonies and now lives in Hawaii with her husband, son and daughter.
By Ginger Daley (MA, 2019)
As museums struggle to stay relevant in the world, technology advances at an exponential rate. The traditional educational role of museums has been contested with a myriad of challenges. Society asks museums not only to educate but also to entertain. Museums can change from a didactic, unilateral knowledge base to a more accessible pedagogical framework by using visitor-centered, technology-based exhibits. Institutions that once flourished, must now compete more than ever for funding; they must evolve or go extinct. They not only fight for dollars with public entities but with edutainment attractions as well. Will digital technologies help museums overcome the challenges they encounter throughout the 21st-century to help support their missions? Are emerging digital technologies capable of changing museum environments into more interactive, engaging experiences, appealing to larger audiences? This paper answers these questions by providing a case study of the Oakland Museum of California and the exhibition No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man as an example of one institution that uses many of these techniques and has become more than a museum but also a diverse community center.