Thursday, July 16, 2020

Balancing Touchless and Tactile in Museums

Image of person with hands in the air in front of a video display showing stick-model hand images.

Because of COVID-19, the realities of balancing the real health and sanitation concerns of visitors with the interactive nature of "hands-on" exhibits leave museum workers in a difficult situation.

Even if a "touchless" or "contactless" museum is possible, is that something we want to really set into motion?  Eliminating every aspect of touch in a museum would, at a start, create spaces that are inaccessible to people with physical or learning challenges. Numerous scholarly articles underline the developmental and educational importance of tactile learning in museums.

Fortunately, I recently had the opportunity to chat with Greg Sprick, the Technical Director of the Richard Lewis Media Group (RLMG) and he shared with me the ongoing work and research that he and his colleagues have been sharing via the RLMG website.  You can access a free series of PDF whitepapers written by Greg and his colleagues on topics ranging from how personal devices can be incorporated into visitor experiences to "minimal-touch" solutions for in-gallery interactives.

You can access all of the COVID-19 resources from RLMG here.  (As a bonus, they have also provided sets of fun Zoom backgrounds for all your "Work From Home" videoconferences.)

How will your museum handle "Touchless vs. Tactile" concerns?  Share your thoughts or additional resources in the "Comments" section below!

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Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

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