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Mixtape at a museum? How to create emotional encounters with art and cultural heritage

An EU initiative offers museums new opportunities for audience involvement by exploiting the potential of digital media.

Digital Economy

For those who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, the mixtape was one of the most intimate forms of self-expression that could also be the ultimate gift for a loved one. A means of communication and sharing an experience, it could instantly transport the recipient to the time, place and person who made it. Thanks to the advances in digital technologies, the art of mixtape-making using a hissing casette tape may seem like a thing of a distant past. However, the idea behind it has inspired a team of artists, designers and computer scientists to help museums create personalised visitor experiences. Supported by the EU-funded GIFT project, the team has developed a web app that could be used on a smartphone to make a digital playlist from the Brighton Museum collection. The app gives visitors the opportunity to send their compilation to someone special. The museum website states: “Choose exhibits from around the museum that you think that person would love, and record a message for them. The app will wrap up your gift and send it to the person you’ve chosen.”

Mixtape with museum objects

In a news item, Nick Tandavanitj, lead artist for the work at project partner Blast Theory, says: “If you’ve ever made a mixtape for someone, this is the same, except with objects from a museum. What you choose to include is totally up to you. You might choose a picture that triggers a memory of a time you spent together, or just features their favourite colour. It’s a personal gift which will speak directly to the person you send it to.”

Virtual and physical museum experiences

In addition to the gift exchange app, the ongoing GIFT project has been creating various other tools that facilitate interactive experiences in museums. One example is Artcodes, customisable scannable markers that function similarly to QR codes. These allow museums to blend their physical exhibitions with digital content that can be designed and even hand-drawn by users. As explained in a news item on the ‘Europeana pro’ website, “Artcodes were used at the Museum of Yugoslavia to create a poetic and intimate experience addressing memories, conflict and forgiveness.” Another hybrid virtual-physical museum experience called One Minute involves a smartphone web app that utilises “image recognition to identify artworks in the museum and offer visitors short, bite-size reflections about them,” according to the GIFT project website. The ongoing GIFT (Meaningful Personalization of Hybrid Virtual Museum Experiences Through Gifting and Appropriation) project was launched to explore hybrid forms of museum experience to spark citizens’ curiosity and increase their involvement with art and cultural heritage. Project partners hope their initiative will contribute to economic growth through ticket and digital sales. For more information, please see: GIFT project website

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Denmark

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