Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

The Virtual Experience

While I was getting my weekly dose of the Borowitz Report from the New Yorker, I stumbled upon this article earlier this week “Alone in the Virtual Museum.” It’s so reminiscent of what we read for Monday and our weekly discussion, we could have written it ourselves. If you have a few minutes, I highly recommend reading the whole article. But in short, the author discusses Google’s Cultural Institute Project which – for those who have not already spent hours exploring – is Google’s partnership with museums, cultural institution and historic places worldwide that allows virtual visitors to explore thousands of places and pieces online, the same way Google Street View allows you to walk in and explore business on their maps.

Like the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD that broadcasts their performances in local movie theatres, the “debate” around the Google Art Project is whether such a virtual experience deters later physical experiences or is a gateway to them. As the author illustrates, there are any number of benefits to exploring artistic and cultural institutions virtually. Art may be more accessible if it’s explored first, up close on a screen – not unlike an Art History class. Or “pixelating” (a new type of travel I just invented) through a museum you once visited with “the same laws of motion that govern dreams” to bring back memories and feelings of past experiences. Or perhaps experiencing something you may otherwise never experience because of distance, cost, or any number of issues. Regardless, I don’t think of Google’s Cultural Institution as anything but positive, and very cool. I’m sure participants of this project agree.

But perhaps the question we should be asking as arts managers isn’t what do we think of this? but how do we harness new technologies in order to create virtual cultural experience that enhance and compliment (but never entirely replace) the arts experience? As usual, my posts pose more questions than answers but it’s year one!

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One comment on “The Virtual Experience

  1. trishayoung
    September 19, 2014

    I like the idea of using these virtual tours to enhance and complements physically going to museums acting as a first step towards getting people in the door.

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This entry was posted on September 17, 2014 by .
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