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Museums of the future

A tour through the world of museums in Linz, Graz and Vienna.

Author: Martin Betz


The days when museums had a dry and dusty image are gone for ever. Modern museums are interactive worlds of adventure that invite visitors to look, marvel and touch. So let’s take a tour through the museums of the future in Linz, Graz and Vienna.

No matter how old we are, we humans always want to play. And so no sooner have visitors to the Ars Electronica Center in Linz left their coats in the cloakroom, than they are invited to measure their strength against someone who is 30 kilometres away by pulling a rope. The rope in space is a telematic tug-of-war with visitors at the Welios Science Centre in Wels. The rope is attached to a pneumatic cylinder equipped with sensors that measure the amount of force pulling on the rope. Transmitted via computer and Internet, the same force can immediately be felt pulling back on the rope at the other location. The interaction and direct dialogue are enhanced by an audio and video link-up.

From spaceship earth to “Holoman”
Just one example from among many of how you can experience the future while having fun at the Ars Electronica Center (AEC). Interactivity is also the guiding principle at the Spaceship Earth exhibition. Breath-taking satellite images and animations developed in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) whisk visitors away on a journey through space where they can observe and analyse the complex interrelationships of our planet. The visitor controls the presentation of the precision data that tell him more, for example, about the weather trends, the expansion of our cities, air quality and traffic. Using satellite technology, visitors can monitor the ocean’s surface or detect forest fires at an early stage. Children love the various research labs in the basement of the AEC, where they can develop and print their own designs on a 3-D rotation modeller or learn more about the human anatomy: for example the glass person “Holoman”, gives a three-dimensional view of the insides of the body using infra-red light. Here too, the emphasis is on learning through play – or as Albert Einstein put it: “Play is the highest form of research.”

An interactive tour with interdependencies
Like Linz, Graz also has a long multi-media tradition. The Joanneum Quarter in the historic centre of Graz is a modern forum for art and culture. In addition to the Neue Galerie Graz, the multi-media collections and the Styrian State Library, the district is also home to the Natural History Museum, which, in its interactive exhibition “Interdependencies”, shows the interdependencies that can be seen in nature, technology and in everyday life. By actively engaging in research and experimenting at the stations, visitors can learn, for example, what keeps a nuclear atom together, find out how to produce a piece of music with feedback noise and learn more about the interaction of medicines. An experience of knowledge exemplifies the twelve sites of the Universalmuseum Joanneum, and scientific knowledge is communicated to visitors in a contemporary and appealing form.

Museum tour

  • Vienna Museum of Technology © Technisches Museum Wien Vienna Museum of Technology © Technisches Museum Wien
  • Pilot school at the Vienna Museum of Technology © Technisches Museum Wien Pilot school at the Vienna Museum of Technology © Technisches Museum Wien
  • Vienna Museum of Technology © TMW / Inge Prader Vienna Museum of Technology © TMW / Inge Prader
  • Wirkungswechel, Balanceakt © Graz, Universalmuseum Joanneum / Nicolas Lackner Wirkungswechel, Balanceakt © Graz, Universalmuseum Joanneum / Nicolas Lackner
  • Joanneum Museum, Graz © Graz, Universalmuseum Joanneum / Nicolas Lackner Joanneum Museum, Graz © Graz, Universalmuseum Joanneum / Nicolas Lackner
  • Joseph Haydn © HdM / Inge Prader Joseph Haydn © HdM / Inge Prader
  • Mozartraum © HdM / Inge Prader Mozartraum © HdM / Inge Prader
  • Stairplay © Haus der Musik / Rudi Froese Stairplay © Haus der Musik / Rudi Froese
  • "Time Pearls", an exhibition in the House of Music, Vienna © Haus der Musik / Johannes Deutsch "Time Pearls", an exhibition in the House of Music, Vienna © Haus der Musik / Johannes Deutsch
  • Ars Electronica Center Linz © Rubra /  Rubra Ars Electronica Center Linz © Rubra / Rubra
The digital museum world
Museums have long since ceased to be a substitute for other activities that have to be cancelled on rainy days. To keep up with the changing demands of visitors, museums are now as hands on as smartphones or tablets. The museums of the future will quite literally be ready at hand - screens will be turned, images will be tilted, opened, closed and wiped away. Admittedly, that’s rather hard to do in a museum with original Michelangelos or da Vincis, but for those cases there’s the Google Art Project, to which famous galleries like the Wiener Belvedere are also linked. Images captured by a 360-degree camera system enable users to take a virtual tour of the Upper and Lower Belvedere and the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene. The most famous pictures from the Belvedere, such as Gustav Klimt‘s Kiss are shown in gigapixel format, so that not even the smallest detail escapes the eye. Helpful information is provided about the motifs and history of the objects. The tool is ideal for preparing to go to a museum, but also for reviewing what you have seen, for example with loved ones who stayed at home.

Everything on the move
The Vienna Technical Museum was one of the early pioneers of the interactive museum. The current exhibition In Motion lets you experience all kinds of mobility phenomena, from a speed simulator, with which you can race through the gardens of the Belvedere Palace at speeds of up to 3,000 km/h, to a model wind tunnel for lorries, cars and helicopters. On the top floor, some 800 objects showcased on over 3000 m2 of floor space tell exciting stories about modern mobility – from the first Mercedes silver arrow to the Diamond DA42, the world’s best-known light aircraft, which incidentally was made in Austria.

The Multimedia Sound Museum
Another outstanding example of an interactive museum is the Haus der Musik in Vienna. The multimedia sound museum in the centre of Vienna invites you to engage in some thoroughly unusual experiments. You can listen to what you heard while you were in the womb, direct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra as a virtual conductor and influence the activity and the music on two stages just by moving your body – intuitively and just how you like. You might not be able to read music but you can compose your own work with a simple dice. In the Sonosphere, oversized instruments invite you to discover unfamiliar sound phenomena. What is true here will one day be perfectly normal at all museums: Please touch and have a go!

 

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