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Join me in Detroit to Explore the Future of Immersive Practice

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog
Meow Wolf's Electric Forest. Photo by Sharat Ganapati
Meow Wolf's Electric Forest. Photo by Sharat Ganapati

I’ve spent the past week designing some futurist exercises for a convening the Alliance is organizing at Detroit Institute of Arts, September 6-7. My colleagues and I are organizing Immersion in Museums: AR, VR or Just Plain R?, an intense investigation into how immersive experiences—physical and digital—are shaping the future of museums. I hope you will register now so we can explore this future together.

What does immersive practice look like in museums? Here are three examples:

Last year, nearly 2,000 people toured the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History by lantern light as part of DODO: The Time Has Come, one of a growing number of immersive theater experiences set in museum space.

Right now, in the Seattle Art Museum’s exhibit Double Exposure, some of Edward Curtis’ historic photographs of Native Americans can be brought to life with “portrait animations” via an Augmented Reality app.

If you missed the recent exhibit No Spectators: the Art of Burning Man at D.C.’s Renwick Gallery, you can visit a digital recreation in a Virtual Reality world created by Linden Labs.

In Detroit, we will explore the challenges and opportunities presented by AR, VR and physical immersion:

How can museums capitalize on the growing popularity of place-based, interactive experiences such as escape rooms and immersive theater?

How can AR and VR be deployed inside the museum in ways that enhance the galleries, rather than distracting visitors from the core experience?

How can museums use AR and VR to push their content beyond the museum’s walls?

How will museums navigate the challenges of collecting, exhibiting, and preserving born-digital immersive art?

What are the evolving tactical, ethical, and legal issues arising from digital realities?

How can we begin to think strategically about the nuances that define the boundary between the physical and the virtual?

At this intimate convening, organized with support from Knight Foundation, we’ll dig into these questions, and more. It’s a “working & thinking session” as much as it is a conference, with the agenda presenting opportunities to learn from each other, build networks, explore these topics and think more deeply about how these technologies will shape the practice of museums in the near future.

A few highlights:

Vince Kadlubek and Golda Blaise will kick off the convening with an exploration of how immersion makes art accessible. Vince and Golda are co-founders of Meow Wolf, an art collective that produces mind blowing immersive multi-media experiences.

On day two, we will hear from Maureen Towey, a creative producer with experience in film and theater. Maureen directed long-form VR content for the New York Times and served as the Senior Producer for The Daily 360, the only series in the world to create professional VR journalism on a daily basis.

DIA staff will lead gallery tours demonstrating Lumin, the award-winning interactive, multi-media, augmented reality app the museum created in partnership with Google and mobile developer GuidiGo.

These keynotes and tours will fuel a series of small group discussions in which attendees will explore the immediate practical implications of immersive practice, as well as thinking about the long term implications of these technologies. I expect to learn a lot from our speakers, the staff of DIA, and you. See you in Detroit?

–Elizabeth Merritt, Director, Center for the Future of Museums and VP, Strategic Foresight

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