I left this year’s American Alliance of Museums (AAM) conference with its theme, “Innovation Edge,” rumbling through my brain. My old Webster’s Dictionary defines innovation as:
1) the introduction of something new
2) a new idea, method, or device: novelty
My own definition is simpler: a new or better way of reaching a goal.
When I think of innovation in a museum context, I think about the new and exciting ways that museums are reaching out to the community. Certainly the traditional still works: public programs continue to inspire repeat visits to the museum, and the work that museum educators do with schools continues to make new museum visitors out of children who, without these programs, may never be taken to a museum.
These days we’re also seeing some innovative ways in which museums are connecting with new audiences and making their collections accessible—through the use of technology.
Via public access catalogs and portals, museums can now make their specialized collections searchable and accessible to users who, for geographic or other reasons, may never be able to visit the museum in person. Imagine the researcher in Tennessee who needs access to the Vietnam War collection that is housed in Texas. He might never find the relevant resources in that Texas museum if not for the fact that the Vietnam collection is dynamically searchable.
And now smartphones and tablets abound. What would I do without mine? If you’re like me and can’t always get to the museum as much as you’d like, wouldn’t you want to explore its collections while sitting in your living room—using a tablet computer?
Our Argus.net customers tell us that two innovative technological tools help them reach their goals of expanding collection usage, and of inspiring their audiences to learn and discover. These important innovations are:
- offering mobile access to their collections
- enabling dynamic searching of their collections through a public access catalog
Our goal is to help our museum customers reach theirs by offering tools that allow them to enable exploration of their collections—to show, tell, engage and inspire users who visit their museums in person or virtually. What are your goals for your museum’s community outreach? How can today’s museum technology help you find your “innovation edge?”
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