Curate-Your-Own Museum

A friend pointed out an article in the Washington Post about The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum entitled, A Curate-Your-Own Museum Web Site.

The so-called “online national design museum” promises to open the museum and its vast collection to visitors anywhere in the world. What’s more, if development can keep up with vision, the site will turn museumgoers into participants in a bold cultural experiment.

Interactivity is the key.

Cooper-Hewitt Director Paul Thompson describes “an open theater for ideas.” And John Maeda, a digital guru at MIT and a trustee, talks of a “new paradigm” for museums.

They’re right. But here’s the catch: The traditional museum autocracy will have to accommodate democracy.

The article goes on to explore the issue of the quality of the “visitor created” information (among other things). Obviously, this is a key issue for all of us in the museum world, as our respective institutions (or the ones we’re working for) view themselves as authoritative sources of information.

I for one, think that museum’s should trust their visitor’s enough to not only provide them with place to socialize–but also to understand that visitors can differentiate between information presented by the museum itself and visitor posted comments.

Anyway, check it out. The article also references the Smithonian’s EyeLevel blog and the Walker Art Center’s Blog.

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