Research Question 2: What key technologies are missing from our list?

Instructions: Please use these prompts to help you consider what might need to be added to the current list of Horizon Topics. Add your thoughts as bullet points below, using a new bullet point for each new technology or topic. Please add your comments to previous entries if you agree or disagree.

a. What would you list among the established technologies that some institutions are using today that arguably all museums should be using broadly to support or enhance museum education and interpretation?

b. What technologies that have a solid user base in consumer, entertainment, or other industries should museums be actively looking for ways to apply?

c. What are the key emerging technologies you see developing to the point that museums should begin to take notice during the next four to five years?

Each new topic entry must include a title, a description similar to the ones that are written now, and, if needed, a rationale as to why it is different from any of the existing topics. The Horizon Project research team will investigate each nomination entered here to see if it meets the criteria set for new topics (eg., that the topic represents a "real" technology, as opposed to a concept, a new idea, or a proposal; that it is sufficiently developed that research, projects, and information about it exist; and that it has a demonstrable link, or strong potential link, to education).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking them with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples.

Compose your entries like this:

New Topic Name
A few sentence description of the topic, plus any relevant hyperlinks. Don't forget to add your signature with the 4 tildes!

Digital humanities
(This is very much reality, and not on the horizon, but we haven't begun to tap into its potential). Digital humanities is research bringing together computing and humanities, often using big data and machine learning to find uncommon connections. Quite often, the research is presented in an appealing way, telling general audiences stories of art, history, science (and as such, digital humanities to me always feel very museum-y). I'm surprised it's not in the list, but maybe because it's not a technology, but smart application of it. A wonderful essay about Digital Humanities, full of examples: - jasper jasper Feb 19, 2016

Agree with Jasper on this one. As access to 3rd party data increases along with commitments to principles of the Open Culture movement, you simply have more resources available in digital formats than ever before. The tools supporting analysis of the data and information resources and visualization are also proliferating and maturing rapidly. - njohnson njohnson Feb 23, 2016 - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Feb 29, 2016

Also agree (and mentioned in RQ 1 "visual data analysis" topic discussion that "visual data analysis" be broadened to encompass digital humanities, or re-characterized as "computational tools in the humanities" (as the phrase "digital humanities" is often perceived as too vague by its practitioners...) - dianezorich dianezorich Feb 23, 2016

I agree with all of the above but presumed that this was included in the 'Open License' topic - I would include here the Getty Scholars' Workspace distributed under the GNU General Public License, version 3. ‚Äč
- shazan shazan Feb 26, 2016
[Editor's Note: This reads more like a trend, so I am placing it in RQ3.]

Data analytics and smart algorithms
Again, not a technology, and an established one, but we haven't begun to scratch the surface of its possibilities. Netflix knows at which moment we become a binge-watcher (, Hollywood can predict the success of its movies, but most exhibitions are still created based on instinct and tradition. Maybe this topic fell of the radar, because we all use Google Analytics, but I feel there's much more we can do to make data work for museums. (Same magazine, equally brilliant essay: - jasper jasper Feb 19, 2016

Agree! Becoming smart about how we select and create more personalized experiences will be key for future-casting exhibitions--if institutions want to be more visitor-centered we need to have the infrastructure in place to aggregate, analyze, and collect data on our audiences in order to make smart, informed decisions. - emily_fry emily_fry Feb 26, 2016 +1 - dhegley dhegley Feb 26, 2016 - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Feb 29, 2016 +1 - heathermarie.wells heathermarie.wells Feb 29, 2016 - kjaebker kjaebker Feb 29, 2016- SOberoi SOberoi Feb 29, 2016soberoi- jludden jludden Mar 1, 2016

Agree here, too! However, I've noticed a huge disconnect at institution often between those who have the data and those who wish it to be analyzed. I think this may need to be addressed more in the challenges section, but there definitely a skill-set of data analysis that is lacking in many museum professionals. - margaretsternbergh margaretsternbergh Feb 29, 2016

I agree that analytics, broadly defined, are underused as a source of insight and data-driven decision-making in museum education and interpretation. How does this topic relate to the topic of "Learning Analytics" that is listed in the existing research topics? - laura laura Feb 29, 2016

Institutional centralized digital asset discovery and reuse
I'm aware of several institutions pursuing strategic initiatives that aim to provide improved and more centralized access points to the data and information resources that currently require access through separate systems. The goal, generally speaking is to provide a platform for management, discovery, and reuse of more digital assets in service to the broad spectrum of daily work in a museum. Cleveland Museum of Art is developing a system they call "Central Table". Dallas Museum of Art is using a Mongo (schema-less) database to provide centralized access to resources. Art Institute of Chicago is building a broad-use digital asset management system. Others have been implicated in this kind of digital strategic thinking but I'm not certain their efforts are public.

This marks a sea change in terms of solving an age old problem of related materials being undiscoverable because they're locked up in proprietary systems or aren't easily accessed in an aggregated or federated manner. Also fueling this trend is the increasing desire and ability to manage as much of our data and information resources digitally along with improved resource management system capabilities and related standards for doing so. The upsides are significant: increased access to resources means increased efficiency (less duplication of effort, less loss of institutional knowledge, ease of use), improved scholarship, and greater capacity to provide materials in support of public programs. - njohnson njohnson Feb 23, 2016 +1 - heathermarie.wells heathermarie.wells Feb 29, 2016

At Mia, we've already built such a system, primarily based on APIs, ElasticSearch and Redis. It accesses 4 different repositories: TMS collections records, MediaBin, ResourceSpace and the WordPress web CMS. It also enables direct download so that users need not jump between systems or in some cases need a separate account and login. In this era of digital publishing - by staff all across and organization - this is essential. A bit more about this here: and here: - dhegley dhegley Feb 26, 2016
We are doing this at the IMA as well and think it is absolutely necessary for museums moving forward. Having a centralized data repository makes IT costs much easier to manage because all things are built on top of this foundation. So you are not having to re-invent the wheel each time. If you need the data you get it from the single source for all digital projects. - kjaebker kjaebker Feb 29, 2016
Add DMA to this list, and agreed that this sort of aggregation is essential for us in terms of dissemination of DMA digital content, both collections information as well as object and non-object media - SOberoi SOberoi Feb 29, 2016soberoi

Museum Technology R&D labs
A number of technology research and development "laboratories" have been assembled and funded over the last few years. The Indianapolis Museum of Art's IMA Lab has been offering technology services to the GLAM community for a number of years. The Holocaust Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art are recent and very interesting entries in this small but potentially influential club. Mike Edson's OpenLabs conference and wiki explore this idea in more detail.

GLAMS have a opportunity to both learn from and influence these "skunk works" endeavors. If these labs continue to publish in open ways and promote their services and products, the entire GLAM community stands to benefit through: ability to learn about and adopt technology with greater alacrity, building of a community of use and support around open source projects, and more. - njohnson njohnson Feb 23, 2016

Theres' also the dx lab at the State Library of NSW - lkelly lkelly Feb 28, 2016

And Seb Chan has started up labs at several of his recent jobs - currently at ACMI and previously at Cooper Hewitt - ewallis ewallis Feb 28, 2016

I agree that this is an important development and I'm glad Neal Johnson brought this up. I agree that GLAMS have an opportunity to learn from and influence these endeavors. Given how slow to change much of the GLAM field is
(especially museums, in my opinion), these labs can create "safe spaces" for experimentation and failure, allowing for boundary-pushing and experimentation. - dmitroff dmitroff Feb 28, 2016 - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Feb 29, 2016

SFMOMA also has a lab: - dmitroff dmitroff Feb 28, 2016

+1 on this idea. It has been discussed off and on, here at Crystal Bridges, but hasn't gone far due to a lack of support from leadership. - heathermarie.wells heathermarie.wells Feb 29, 2016
I could talk for days about the the positives (more technology, environment to experiment, in-house expertise) and the negatives (how do you fund it, how to measure impact in a climate of decrease cost/increase revenue, balancing experiments with must dos). I think labs are a great idea but they absolutely need top level buy in and a clear mission and funding stream to make them work. - kjaebker kjaebker Feb 29, 2016 +1 - njohnson njohnson Feb 29, 2016

+1 on this idea. Also thinking about how we might as a community avoid reinventing the wheel. I think we are getting better at it, but how do we take the technology lessons we learn and grow them. More importantly, how do we take the tools we develop and make sure they are being used. I could see a museum lab going beyond being an organization that creates tools and solves digital problems for museums, but instead links museums together that have similar problems or shops around for museums to find solutions that already exist. Many museum professions don't have the resources or experience to solve the digital problems they have from resources that already exist. Instead, they create new things or rely on outdated models based on incomplete research or expertise. - margaretsternbergh margaretsternbergh Feb 29, 2016

I like to think of museum labs not necessarily as spaces for experimentation, but spaces that work in experimental, iterative means to solve problems in the museum. And done in collaboration with departments throughout the organization - a more nimble way of working that allows for learning from 'failure' and continuous improvement (perhaps not historically prevalent in museum culture) can be experienced and spread. At the Art Institute of Chicago, in an R&D capacity we brought in a 3D printer and worked with departments to think about the 'what ifs' and then experimented with problem-solving in collaboration. This lead to a larger team interested in the technology which in turn allowed for more meaningful distribution. Maybe it's not about technology -- it's about an agile, nimble, iterative, collaborative way of working. - lizneely.mail lizneely.mail Mar 2, 2016

3D digitization
This is a broader area of digitization than just 3D printing. (I suggested the 3D printing topic be expanded in my comments in that section....) The 3D digital capture of collections will open up whole new worlds of experience. 3D models can be manipulated in virtual environments, allowing users to experience collections in new ways. Because 3D images are data points, they lend themselves to quantification and potentially new analyses using computational technologies. And because they are precise renderings, they offer new opportunities in conservation and preservation, particularly for archaeological sites and monuments. For examples of the potential of 3D digitization, see the Smithsonian's work in this area at
+1 - dhegley dhegley Feb 26, 2016
A bit off-topic, but I loved this story about 3D digitization and 'theft' of Nefertiti's bust: - jasper jasper Feb 25, 2016
Beautifully said dhegley! I agree -- this is a whole new dimension on digital publishing, collections research and digital humanities. The research potential is great. - lizneely.mail lizneely.mail Mar 2, 2016

And not only new opportunities in conservation and preservation, but also in creative re-interpretation, re-use (creative industries; serious games)...Here are some 2D examples: Europeana Creative:; Europeana Space: - kaja kaja Feb 27, 2016

We should not forget also on community engagegement, e.g. through co-production / co-design of 3D models. See ACCORD - Archaeology Community Co-Production of Research Data ( - kaja kaja Feb 27, 2016 On the community engagement end, see also:
Museum3D: Experiments in Engaging Audiences Using 3D - - lizneely.mail lizneely.mail Mar 2, 2016

[Editor's Note: Combining with 3-D Printing topic.]

Digital Interpretation
It is about using new media technology for interpretation. There are so many discussion on using different tools/platform, and few focusing on contents. - hdin hdin Feb 25, 2016

I agree with @hdin and how best practices in digital interpretation, methodologies for evaluating digital interpretation/audience impact, and planning tools for institutional advocacy remain key. - emily_fry emily_fry Feb 26, 2016- margaretsternbergh margaretsternbergh Feb 29, 2016

I agree that it's an important topic, although to me it's just "interpretation" in that digital is one of a number of modalities. We've been working on this for a few years at Mia. Kris Wetterlund's guide for interpretation was informed in part by what we've been up to: And yes I confess that we talk about the tools, but we also talk about process, for example: - dhegley dhegley Feb 26, 2016

- Digital tools are increasingly being uses by heritage interpreters. However, in the next few years it will be very important to provide good trainings about digital tech implementation in heritage interpretation for interpreters in order to increse their digital competences. Here is one example of such a training: - kaja kaja Feb 27, 2016

Would love to dive into this in a little more detail; at our institution, "interpretation" seems to be mostly focused on wall labels and audio tours (for both special exhibitions and permanent collection) and so would be interested in hearing both how others define it, as well as what approached (and what toolsets) they use to support it.
- SOberoi SOberoi Feb 29, 2016soberoi

Agree with the above. Digital interpretation I think is becoming like "content" or "engagement" as it varies from place to place or even between staff members. I'd venture to say that social media, a museums website, and other non-gallery experiences fall under the umbrella of digital interpretation of utilized properly. - margaretsternbergh margaretsternbergh Feb 29, 2016

+1s all around on this topic. - njohnson njohnson Feb 29, 2016

Mapping Museum Experience

- In addition to a online survey or focus group, another way of meauring visitor's experience using eMotion analyses. - luannel luannel Feb 26, 2016

does this overall topic include beacons, wifi-triangulation, indoor wayfinding etc? - SOberoi SOberoi Feb 29, 2016soberoi
[Editor's Note: Combining with Location Intelligence topic.]

Evaluation of Museum Technology Visitor Experience
I think we need to be looking more at what is working and what is not, technology-wise. I know this is the Horizon Report, so it is about what's on the horizon. Nevertheless, we should be examining the horizon in visitor learning in relationship to new technologies.- weberj weberj Feb 28, 2016
[Editor's Note: This reads more like a trend, so I am combining it with Increasing Focus on Data Analytics for Museum Operations it in RQ3.]

GLAM sector convergence
Museums and GLAM sector generally have been pursuing collection digitisation, publishing more expansive collections online at individual museums, and then going further to make use of OpenAPIs, good old fashioned harvesting models and (occasionally) LOD to aggregate data. One result I see, that we have not yet started to really make the most of is the overlap that starts to emerge in collections across the GLAM sector. Photographic collections are one prime example as these can be found in library collections; archives; collections in art museums; collections in natural history museums; or collections in historical societies, house museums, or large state museums. Some larger aggregators are offering the possibility of finding content in this multi-institution space (Europeana, Trove in Australia, DPLA) and Google are also in there with the Cultural Institute. At the moment these are big buckets to be filled in an ad-hoc way with 'whatever'. Are there opportunities for museums and how might we serve the users of these repositories better? - ewallis ewallis Feb 28, 2016
[Editor's Note: This reads more like a trend, so I am adding it in RQ3.]