Short Take: Three Digital Museums

This week’s Short Take invites you to visit the web pages of three transnational and highly collaborative museum projects: The Canadian Human Rights Museum (Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada); The Jewish Museum (Berlin); and The Palestinian Museum (Birzeit, Palestine). The links are below.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights jpgThis is a digitally altered image from the Canadian Human Rights Museums webpage. 

All three of these web pages are political art projects in their own right, and take you into these politically complex museum projects via digital design and various image sequences and stories about historical events, people, places and objects.

All three digital sites emanate from actual museums located in space, and for those fortunate enough to visit them, these buildings offer their own complex experiences.

All three museums (and their content, designs and architectural choices) have also been the subject of intense debate and collaborative development, which is in itself an important dimension of the websites too: all three digital pages address, in one way or another, some of those debates.

For many people, these web pages will be the only option for visiting the museums. Multi-media web pages like these are themselves increasingly a central way of telling stories about history and its meaning in the present.

And as you will see, all three projects include contemporary art and design, and all sorts of dynamic content originating in the “here and now.”

Perpetual questions about any museum project persist for these digital spaces too: Who is telling which stories, and for whom? Who is able to contribute to the project and who is excluded? How do particular images, spaces and sounds work to create sensory impressions, emotional experiences, and provocative ideas for visitors? How do visitors interact with various museum spaces (pages, in this case), and what narratives about history and the present are presented to them in those segments? What about the “imbedded narratives” in the exhibit as a whole?

Here are the pages:

Canadian Museum For Human Rights

Jewish Museum Berlin

The Palestinian Museum

Sharon Carson, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, Department of English, University of North Dakota