On February 4th and 5th, the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) held a Digital Heritage Symposium at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Through the generosity of the Public History Program at UWO I was able to participate online. It was my first online academic event, and I was pleased with how it turned out. I had originally thought that not being there in person would limit my interaction and ability to network; however this was not the case. Symposium organizers included a box through which online participants could submit questions, and by Tweeting my way through the proceedings using the appropriate hash marks (#dhs2010) I was linked to other online participants, and had some meaningful interaction with not only other participants, but with some presenters as well.
Of the nearly 25 speakers those two days, the following talks stood out for me.
Agnès Alfandari, Head of the Multimedia Department at the Louvre, discussed some of the Louvre’s partnership with the DNP Lab in Tokyo. The exhibits the partnership is producing are extraordinary.
Chris Mathieson, head of the small Vancouver Police Museum gave a great talk on social media in museums, a fitting topic since he has built the second largest Twitter following for a Canadian museum. During his presentation Chris mentioned that social media is the great equalizer between large and small museums (evidenced by the fact that Agnès Alfandari of the Louvre asked his advice on social media) as well as between museums and their communities.
The very engaging George Siemens, currently with Athabasca University, summarized the first day’s proceedings in a talk that included the future of digital technologies in museums, particularly social media and visualization.
Graham Larkin of the National Gallery of Canada spoke about their Provenance Research Project relating to their Nazi gap list (works that might have been stolen during the Second World War). This project is now complete, and Larkin would like to see a similar project done throughout Canada with the support of CHIN.
Stephen Fai of Carleton University spoke of the Cultural Diversity and Material Imagination in Saskatchewan Architecture project, which deals with the digital conservation and presentation of ethno-cultural building practices on the prairies.
The Reciprocal Research Network, discussed by Museum of Anthropology’s Susan Rowley was an excellent example of the potential for collective intelligence in academic research.
Artist in new media (read “digital”) Rafael Lozano-Hemmer was also present. He spoke about the challenges museums face in relation to new media/digital art, but also discussed a number of his works, which I found fascinating, particularly as I am currently enrolled in an interactive exhibit design class. Two projects which I found most interesting were his works Pulse Room and Under Scan.