The Magic Museum

The Magic Museum

By Stefania Boiano

Can you recall the magic objects of myth that you once read about and played with in your imagination? Those everyday things with hidden and unexpected powers. Like a ring that gave its wearer invisibility or a flying carpet. They are objects with an ordinary and easily recognisable shape but with functions radically different from what we are used to.

In 2006 we wrote a paper for Museums and the Web – the most important American conference on museums and new technologies – in which we traced an analogy between magic and multimedia.

Fast forward nine years, and the analogy is an everyday reality. We live in a world where phones can open cars and control our homes, watches turn into smartphones and NFC tags which allow you to turn a museum ticket or bracelet into an object that can communicate and change the reality around us.

As in every good fairy tale, the reality under the effect of magic objects becomes liquid and changeable. Like the genie of the lamp the new technology, from Google glasses to holograms, reacts to the movements of its users and will adjust to their behaviours and tastes.

How will the digital, smart and hence “magic” museum be? How will the perception of the visitors change? Will it be possible to increase their opportunity to learn and exchange information without being “locked” into an illusory reality in which we are always surrounded by suggestions and aspects connected to our own world, our own tastes, thus eliminating every possibility to be surprised and meet the new?