The IWM and IMHM and their use of Digital Technologies

21 Feb

As technological capability has rapidly increased, so too have museums needed to increase their knowledge of and presence in the digital world.  Some museums feature digital displays in their exhibits, allowing patrons to interact with them.  Others have not gone that far but have created and continue to maintain websites for their respective museums. The Indiana War Memorial and the Indiana Medical History Museum are of the latter group.  While their exhibits are not as digitally immersed as other museums, both make use of digital tools, using such methods to promote their exhibits and engage with their audiences.

 

The Indiana War Memorial’s use of digital technologies currently focuses primarily around its website.  The physical exhibits themselves offer very little digital interaction and primarily focus on presenting artifacts and documents as well as models and interpretations from this evidence for patrons to view in person.  The website primarily aims to encourage patrons to come to the museum, making information regarding tour times and exhibits readily available.  They include many articles on various aspects of Indiana’s role in various military conflicts, which can give potential visitors some background information prior to their visit. They also have on their website a ‘virtual tour’ which allows for one to view certain exhibits and features from home, through various pictures.  However, the tour is primarily a collection of photographs with little context given on the tour.[1]  The War Memorial’s site primarily focuses upon the memorials themselves rather than the museum beneath the War Memorial and its exhibits, though it gives many pictures of the memorials themselves.[2]

 

The Indiana Medical History Museum also lacks the presence of digital technologies at the museum itself.  Its website is similar in many ways to that of the Indiana War Memorial’s, albeit different content.  However, the IMHM also has online exhibits including their recent exhibition, “Voices from Central State,” which tries to present life at Central State from the patient’s perspective. [3] Updates are likely to be made on this site, as the museum prepares to collect oral histories from individuals who experienced Central State when it was operating, through the eyes of patient, staff, neighbor, or someone otherwise associated with the hospital.  The website will need to be updated to make these accounts and documents available to the public, however the museum has clearly been trying to increase their digital presence and do more to engage their audience digitally.  ‘Voices from Central State’ is likely to be the project that pulls their museum into the future with regards to digital technology and their use of it.

 

Though both the Indiana Medical History Museum and the Indiana War Memorial Museum utilize their websites as their primary digital tools, they use them in very different ways.  The IMHM is preparing to feature more material online for patrons to access through their site and will likely be revamping their website to incorporate their oral history project very soon.  The War Memorial on the other hand, focuses primarily upon the physical artifacts and memorials themselves and then providing explanation around them.  The War Memorial’s efforts are not without their merits as they provide exciting teasers for potential patrons that may decide to come and view these exhibits first hand, however with the proper staff and funding, they could provide more digitally interactive resources through such mediums as digital mapping tools and perhaps taking a page from the IMHM’s book and providing an exhibit featuring the stories of the Hoosiers who lived through these wars.  The War Memorial Museum has an impressive collection and interesting exhibits and to seek to expand their presence digitally, as the IMHM is currently attempting, would greatly benefit them and their patrons.

[1] “Indiana War Memorial Museum,” Indiana War Memorial Foundation, http://www.indianawarmemorials.org/museums/warmemorialmuseum.html.

[2] “Explore the Memorials,” Indiana War Memorial Foundation, http://www.indianawarmemorials.org/explore/index.html.

[3] “Online Exhibits,” Indiana Medical History Museum, http://imhm.org/Online-Exhibits.

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