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Presenting About Design Networking Event 2013

Level 2 Seminar Room, 381 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley
Wednesday 25 September 2013, 3pm-5pm, followed by networking over refreshments

Tom Hewitt, Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers (UK) and inductee of Design Institute of Australia's Designers Hall of Fame 2009 and designer of Museum of Wellington City and Sea in New Zealand, asked the question - 'is it technology or imagination that injects new life into museums?'

Virginia Rigney, Senior Curator, Gold Coast City Art Gallery reflected on 'the evolving dynamic between the design of physical and digital museum spaces' after her 2012 M&GSQ International Fellowship over three weeks to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, London, Glasgow, Kassel and Basel.

Two speakers responded to the invitation and presented their observations about the impact of design in gallery or museum exhibitions:

  • Lynda Griffin, Assistant Curator, Caloundra Regional Gallery
  • Joan Kelly, Museum Coordinator, Moreton Bay Regional Gallery

Tom Hewitt ABSTRACT & BIO

The long term impact of design on the visitor experience: Analysis of a museum project after thirteen years of operation.

In May 2013 the Times of London published its list of the world's top 50 museums and included the Museum of Wellington City and Sea in New Zealand. The designer of this museum examines the design philosophy and development process for this city museum, seen as somewhat unorthodox in 2000.

While we regularly read of interpretive planning, community consultation and curatorial intent, little related to the impact of design is recorded, and even less evidence related to the long term success or failure of any specific development approach is documented.

The Wellington Museum City and Sea has been a quiet achiever with attendances continually climbing, and web, peer, and official tourism reviews all remaining more than positive. The museum is on Te Papa's doorstep, yet competes favourably and rates highly with visitors even though advertising and marketing budgets are minimal. DesignPro magazine introduced its five page article on the museum with the title 'Tradition meets technology' and in 2008 Footprint, the official guide to New Zealand, used the following in its description of the museum 'The modern dose of sensual bombardment it now houses is very powerful…. a fantastic example of how technology has injected new life into museums as a whole".

Given the assumption by some commentators and visitors that technology is a primary contributor for success this paper considers the question - is it technology or imagination that injects new life into museums?

Biography

Tom Hewitt is a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers (UK), and currently a doctoral candidate.

His past design projects include Hellfire Pass Museum, Thailand; Al Shaqab Museum Qatar; the International Antarctic Centre at Christchurch Airport, New Zealand; the Pylon Lookout and Harbour Bridge Museum, Sydney, NSW; the Bradman Museum, Bowral, NSW; the RAAF Museum, Point Cook, Victoria; Sandakan Memorial and Interpretive Centre, North Borneo; The Wellington Museum City and Sea, New Zealand. He has lectured in design at the University of Canberra, and the University of East London (UK).

In 2009 the Design Institute of Australia inducted him into the Designers Hall of Fame.

Virginia Rigney ABSTRACT & BIO

Reflections on the evolving dynamic between the design of physical and digital museum spaces

Museum staff are now acutely aware that a virtual visit through a digital platform is their likely first point of contact with a visitor. Through the familiarity that comes with regular trips to local institutions our own appreciation of the design of this relationship can be forgotten.

An international Museum Fellowship trip in 2012 over three weeks to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, London, Glasgow, Kassel and Basel - virtually all of which were first time visits - forced a close consideration of this relationship and an awareness of the differences and connections between the physical design of spaces to view objects and artworks and the digital spaces of the museum that sit in parallel.

Biography

Virginia Rigney is Senior Curator at Gold Coast City Gallery and was first involved in designing a 'computer interactive' early in her career while working in the Decorative Arts Department at the Powerhouse Museum in 1984-87. She has since worked in Curatorial roles at Art Gallery of NSW, V &A, Scottish Museums and Glasgow Museums and began work at the Gold Coast in 2003 where has developed a number of projects that seek to investigate the visual culture of that unique city. She is also currently involved in the development work on the proposed Gold Coast Cultural Precinct.

 

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