31 January 2019, Etihad Museum, 7pm, open to public upon registration: guest@dubaiculture.ae 

  

Panel:

  • Lana Shamma, Senior Manager of Public Programmes at Art Jameel, Dubai
  • Roei Amit, Head of the Digital Department at the Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais (RMN – GP)
  • Hani Asfour, Dean of the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation
  • Noah Raford, Futurist in Chief at the Dubai Future Foundation

List of participating companies

  • Axeon
  • GuestViews
  • Moving Digital Agency
  • Ubisoft
  • Fgreat

 

There is a growing interest in exploring the manners in which new technologies can be used to enhance our cultural experience of museums in our day and age. Indeed, from the first moment adopters began using computers in cultural institutions, there have been visions and projections of a future conception. It slowly became evident that we were entering a truly digital age in which new technologies could play an increasingly prominent role in our perception of museums, rendering the exploration of their various facets and implications today a necessity. It is for this reason in particular that the Institut français has teamed up with Dubai Culture to initiate a fruitful debate, therefore expanding the theoretical terrain of the latter topic.

Indeed, within the framework of the Night of Ideas 2019, and as part of the emerging initiatives of the Emirati-French Cultural Dialogue 2019, the Institut français in the United Arab Emirates is collaborating with Dubai Culture to bring together professionals on 31 January, to share their knowledgeable opinions on “Museums and New Technology”. This is also a unique opportunity to situate museums in the context of technological changes of our information era. On this interdisciplinary night, Noah Raford, Futurist in Chief for Dubai Future Foundation, Lana Shamma, Senior Manager of Public Programs at Art Jameel, Roei Amit, Head of the Digital Department at the Réunion des musées Nationaux – le Grand Palais and Hani Asfour, Associate Dean of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation will be joining forces to chart the complexity of this emerging field. The objective of this event is not to convey that digital technology is, or should be universally adopted and assimilated by all museums, but rather to initiate thought-provoking debates about their impact on the cultural sector. In other words, far from all naïve optimism, our sole aim is to study the numerous ways in which they can help enhance, rather than replace the museum’s missions: raising visitors’ numbers, attracting new ones in the context of museums, and improve the public’s overall experience of temporary and permanent exhibitions among many other important aspects. In addition to that, the discussion is going to be followed by live demonstrations of technological inventions, presented by start-ups and companies such as Ubisoft and Axeon, therefore allowing the public to truly witness the implications of these new technologies in a more tangibly direct manner.

As a catalyst for collaboration and exchange across the Middle East and beyond, the UAE is well equipped to host this thought-provoking initiative. Indeed, it is becoming strikingly clear that this growing recognition of the importance of new technologies in museums in the UAE is symptomatic of a larger context, one that is increasingly regarding innovation as the ultimate interpretative lens through which the country is being shaped today. Indeed, this can be remarked by the launching of the country’s first Artificial Intelligence strategy by the UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Furthermore, the currently-under-development Museum of the Future is set to become Dubai’s first incubator for futuristic innovation and design. By drawing on five years of temporary immersive exhibitions, it aims to dedicate itself entirely to the display of tomorrow’s technological trends. With such a stronghold in the fields of culture and AI, France is also a notable pioneer in this field. Indeed, following the Entretiens of Abu Dhabi (Royaumont), organized in partnership with the Institut français in the UAE, which took place last September, it is now the occasion to revisit this multidisciplinary body of knowledge being formed at the intersection between areas of interest of many disciplines in an unprecedented fashion, thanks to the Night of Ideas 2019.

No matter the path cultural institutions, researchers and professionals decide to take, only one thing remains certain: museums are no longer neutral containers offering an unmediated experience of art, but rather propulsory mechanisms that are increasingly becoming visitor-oriented spaces. In addition to that, it is becoming rather clear that the possibilities are only now starting to be explored in a truly structural habitus, thanks to the multiplication of enriching initiatives, such as the Night of Ideas 2019, and their contribution to the advancement of the domain. The latter initiative is also crucial, in the sense that it allows us to initiate a concrete dialogue on the increasingly interdisciplinary path that museological studies are adopting today as well as the results this shift has on the integration of new technologies in the cultural sector. As fields merge and become interdependent, one is led to the conclusion that museums, as cultural institutions cannot exist as unique entities, but are instead part of an artistic ecosystem that is as influential as it is influenced by spectatorship, bio-politics and ultimately societal progress, including new emerging technologies.