Deep Viewpoints: Using Citizen Curation to challenge the Participation Gap

Wednesday, April 5th: 1:00pm - 2:30pm


Senior Research Fellow @ The Open University

Paper Abstract

Many countries observe a participation gap in engagement with cultural heritage: people from lower socio-economic groups, members of ethnic minoritized groups and people with disabilities are less likely to visit museums and other cultural institutions. The UK Warwick Commission proposed that this is not due to cost but rather many public cultural institutions having a perceived lack of relevance to their potential audiences.
This paper describes an initiative developed and used at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) to help challenge the participation gap by enabling a broad range of communities to develop their personal responses to the IMMA collection and exhibitions, as well as contribute to curating the museum experience of other visitors in a way that reflects their own concerns and perspective.
The approach made use of a web application designed for the purpose called Deep Viewpoints that supports two forms of citizen participation: mediation and interpretation. Mediation involves developing a script that guides the interpretation process of other visitors through a sequence of stages comprising contextual information and questions. Interpretation involves selecting a script associated with a theme and progressing through its stages in order to develop and share an interpretation of one or more artworks.
The process of citizen participation was realized as a combination of mediation and interpretation for several reasons. First, it divided the participation process into manageable activities. An approach that involved an extensive time or training commitment would likely create participation barriers for the communities the initiative was attempting to reach. Second, interaction across participants, as one responds the script of another, can lead to creative outcomes that neither participant may have produced individually. Third, it reflects contemporary curatorial practice in which the aim, rather than to provide an authoritative account, is to help the

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