In a Culture like Ours: U-Nity within the Virtual and Real Museum Experience

By Jana Macalik.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The youth of this generation, the Millennials, are known for their technological savviness and global perceptions, virtual and real. They are part of a global community - a community of like-minded individuals whose awareness of popular and high culture is most influenced by mainstream culture and mass media. Historically, museums have been seen as mediators between popular and high culture. Many Millennials view the museum as a ‘mausoleum’ containing only the past and captive to the interests of the elite. As such it exemplifies the commodification and institutionalization of culture and cultural production. It is with this view of the museum that has hindered its growth and relevance within the Millennials’ generation, riddled with capitalist rewards and technological escapes, from iPods to Second Life avatars. Museums can only become socially meaningful spaces if users are able to connect to their own identities, virtual and real; thus developing an individual extension of themselves between the virtual and real worlds, the U-Nity*- a form of the virtual museum experience that takes its cues from the common Millennials’ form of communication and exhibition found on social networking sites and translate it to an extension of the physical museum experience. This paper offers a visual comparative analysis of one such exhibit, Massive Change, which harnesses this method of experiential communication. (*U-Nity – developed by the author, this term defines the congruence between the physical and virtual museum experience, as an extension and an amalgamation of the user’s identity; referencing the idea of a unity of experience, self-directed and self-indulging, and reflective of the Millennials ideologies about themselves (me) and their outward connections (you = U).)

Keywords: Virtual Museum, Millennials, Exhibition Design, Social Networking

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.25-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.161MB).

Jana Macalik

Assistant Professor, School of Interior Design, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Jana Macalik is concerned with spatial communication and media integration, and since 1994 has been involved in cultural exhibition design and branding applications in communications and architecture. She has over 12 years of experience worked as a designer for institutions, including the Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, as well as a designer for multi-disciplinary firms, including Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership in New York, Sears & Russell Architects and Perennial Inc. in Toronto and Aldrich Pears Associates in Vancouver. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at Ryerson University, School of Interior Design in Toronto, Canada. Her theoretical activity is concerned with generational and cultural influences on interior design. In the field of applied research she is pursuing opportunities of cross-disciplinary influences in spatial experiences and new technology applications in communications, with the Art Gallery of Ontario. She holds a Master of Architecture and a Bachelor of Environmental Design Studies from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.

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