Another year and another MCN has come and gone. We've laughed, we've cried (we've laughed until we've cried in the case of the karaoke night) and we've made invaluable connections to not only forward our own careers and institutions, but forward our community as cultural technologists and digital strategists.
For those of you possibly unfamiliar with MCN - it is the annual Museum Computer Network Conference, focusing on all aspects of the digital realm in museums and cultural institutions.
This year was extra special as it was the conference's 50th Anniversary. The theme was about looking both backwards and forwards in what has been achieved in museums through the integration of technology, and what lessons we have learned to move forward with into the future.
Some of the wins highlighted over the past 50 years:
- Accessibility - tech has been able to accommodate more audiences both inside and outside the physical space with online collections, social media, and the ability to serve disabled and elderly visitors more effectively.
- Higher Engagement - tech has allowed visitors to connect with individual institutions' missions and collections on a much broader and deeper level than in the past, with interactivity and various methods of digital interpretation. As a result you don't have to be be a history-buff or an art-nerd to feel welcomed at, or appreciate these institutions anymore.
- Preservation - tech has enabled digital preservation and archiving; with open access to digitized collections, there has been an increase in learning and collaboration between institutions. Digital preservation has also led to us learning more about the physical objects, being able to manipulate the digital versions of an artifact or artwork in more abstract ways that would otherwise damage the piece if done to the actual piece.
- Data - being able to capture data from visitors has not only led to huge leaps in accessibility and engagement as mentioned above, but by capturing and analyzing data institutions are able to better serve visitors. For example: who is coming, who is not, what they are doing there, where their interests and needs lie, and how to drive deeper engagement, accessibility, and revenue.