Re-inventing Museums for the Metaverse at The AWE2022 Conference
June 6, 2022
The AWE2022 Conference in Santa Clara, June 2022, was an exhilarating experience!
It was a chance to meet people in real life that I’ve been talking to and working with virtually, on countless Zoom, Teams and Google Hangout calls or in VR, since March 2020.
Ori Inbar’s Welcome was all about how dreams create the future, and how AR and VR are already doing that – and of course Unity's John Riccitiello’s keynote about defining the elusive Metaverse. My tweet of his definition: it will be always real-time, mostly 3D, persistent, social & interactive. It won’t be a single destination. No universal avatar. Will be device agnostic, also to bridge/augment the real world.
There were so many excellent sessions it’s a challenge to choose my favorites, but here are my top four:
- A Day in the Life of the Metaverse, a funny, brave and dazzling live action/VR play about the importance of interoperability in the Metaverse, and so much more.
- IRL Experience Design (Disney) vs Virtual World Design, an illuminating conversation between Kathleen Cohen and Amy Jupiter.
- Structure of Educational Revolution: How Virtual Reality Can Encourage Paradigmatic Change,” Dr. Angelina Dayton and Daniel Dyboski-Bryant’s enthusiastic talk for educators.
- Humanity First Approach to Building the Metaverse, a conversation between Dr. Muhsinah Morris and Christopher Lafayette about the importance of bringing empathy and ethics into education in the metaverse, and of course.
Re-inventing Museums for the Metaverse, the panel with Paige Dansinger, Wilson Tang, James Taylor, and me was a wide ranging conversation. Museums in the metaverse are making a fresh start, while physical museums are struggling to free themselves from old definitions. We came up with some key questions that museum builders need to be asking themselves, as well as offering some advice based on what each of us on the panel has learned through the virtual museum experiences we have built.
The questions we discussed in the panel were:
- What are the important (or essential) characteristics of a real world museum? What should the role of museums be in an endlessly open virtual world?
- What are some of the hard won lessons on designing virtual museums? How can we make them widely accessible? Do they need even need a four walled space?
- If museums are becoming more open and democratic in the metaverse, what is the role of the curator? Who is the community and what is their role?
- What kinds of alternative business models will museums of the future have? What about NFTs, and micro-credentialing?
- What's the future of museums that you envision? How important are highly realistic representations of reality? Will it be hybrid? What else?
We proposed that in the metaverse museums should start by acknowledging that they exist not simply to conserve objects but to serve people, with opportunities for learning, but also for co-creation, and enjoyment. We recognized the power that museums have and saw the revolutionary potential for curators and other museum professionals to see their work in terms of the social impact museums can have to contribute to building a better world in the metaverse and back in real life.
If you want to learn more, please watch the recording on Youtube!