New Book Reimagining Museums : Practice on the Arabian Peninsula


Developing interactive exhibits across cultures

The development of interactive exhibits is a specialty in the museum field. Originally used in the context of science communications and from 1969 becoming substantial with Oppenheimer’s Exploratorium in San Francisco, many museums discovered that these special kinds of displays lead to an improved visitor experience. But what has to be considered when using this kind of knowledge transfer in Saudi Arabia? How can this special knowledge be established and what should institutions and designers keep in mind when they wish to make a museum more “hands on”?

This essay will focus on three main topics: The first topic covers the general advantages of knowledge transfer through interactive exhibits considering cultural distinctions and social aspects in Saudi Arabia. The second topic gives some general guidelines when it comes to the development of interactive exhibits, giving an overview of the different types of exhibits and how a positive visitor experience will be generated in times of medialization and cognitive overload. The third topic will focus on the needs of maintenance and early consideration of consequent costs for any kind of interactive exhibit, whether it is analogue, digital or outdoor.

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Publication Contents


Pamela Erskine-Loftus, independent researcher, New York, USA

1. Understandings of Place and Museum

Contextualizing History: Bahrain’s Innovative Approach to Museum Creation 
Alex Aubry, Architect/Editor/Curator/Educator, Chicago, USA 

Hybrid Heritage and Cosmopolitanism in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi 
Sarina Wakefield, The Open University, UK

Impacts of Social Change in Museum Development 
Mona Al Ali, Doctoral candidate, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK / Sharjah Museums Department, UAE

Museums and Cultural Institutions: How Collaborative Approaches May Help Museums Reach Their Communities
Salwa Mikdadi, Independent Art Historian and Curator, Abu Dhabi, UAE 

Museums in Qatar: Creating Narratives at a Time of Global Unease
Mariam Ibrahim Al-Mulla, Doctoral candidate, History of Art and Cultural Studies, Leeds University, UK / Qatar Museums Authority 

Social Change and the Rules of the Game: A Conversation About Museum Values in the United Arab Emirates
Marjorie Schwarzer, visiting scholar in museum studies, University of San Francisco, USA Leigh Markopoulos, Associate Professor, California College of the Arts, USA Aisha Deemas, Curator, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, UAE 

2. Communities and Audiences

On Uncertain Grounds: Visitor Research and Community Involvement in a Regional Museum Project in Yemen 
Susan Kamel & Christine Gerbich, German Archaeological Institute, Branch Sana'a, Yemen / Technical University Berlin, Germany 

Khasab Castle: A Museum for the Material Culture of the Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman
Marcia Dorr, Abdullah bin Salem Al Zahli, Aisha bint Abdullah Al Thanawi, and Saif bin Khamis Al Rawahi, Ministry of Tourism, Oman

Six Things We Didn't Know: Researching the Needs of Family Audiences in Qatar
John Bull & Shaikha Hamad Al Thani, Qatar Museums Authority 

Engaging Visitors, Without an Attraction!
Sarah Kneebone, Head of Education, and Communication, Oman Botanic Garden 

3. Exhibiting and Educating

The Relationship Between Museum Architecture, Exhibits and Audience, Using Bait Al Zubair in the Sultanate of Oman as a Case Study
Sarah White, Arts Advisor/Museum Director, Bait Al Zubair Museum, Oman 

Developing Interactive Exhibits Across Cultures
Claudia Schleyer, Consultant for Interactive Exhibits, Berlin, Germany

What Are We Silently Saying? Non-Verbal Communication and Exhibitions
Pamela Erskine-Loftus, independent researcher, New York, USA 

The Adaptation of Western Museum Education Practices
Alya Burhaima, Interpretation and Education Manager, Sharjah Museums Department, UAE 

Teaching as Learning: UCL Qatar’s Museum Studies Masters Programme in Qatar One Year On Artist Encounters: Artist-led Interpretive Programs and Inclusive Practices
Michelle Dezember, Head of Education and Public Programs, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Qatar 

Students Are Key! Cooperation in Abu Dhabi
Jane Bristol-Rhys, Director, Emirati Studies and Museum Studies, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, UAE 

Professional Reciprocity and its Opportunities
Sue Underwood, Qatar Museums Authority and Pamela Erskine-Loftus, independent researcher, New York, USA 

Appendix: Names and Nomenclature


Image © Claudia Schleyer 2012