British Museum Goes Digital


A “tailor-made” technology is currently being developed by the British Museum to combat congestion in its most popular galleries, as it works to lure visitors away from seeing just its star exhibits towards lesser-known items elsewhere.

There is an ongoing examination of the tastes and decisions of its visitors by the museum, to develop technology which will match the artefacts they already want to see with similar items they did not know existed.

The “tailor-made solution” will be designed to help tourists branch out from the Rosetta Stone, Parthenon sculptures and mummies, and utilise the less populated parts of its galleries.

The research is part of long-terms plans for the gallery, which include opening the Reading Room for exhibitions and bringing more objects from the Americas and Polynesia out of storage.

Asked about congestion in the galleries during peak times, director Hartwig Fischer said staff hoped to use digital “suggestions of how to move” to bring about “better distribution” of guests inside the museum.”

“That’s obviously one of the tasks we have to tackle,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest collections in the world.

The mummy of the Ancient Egyptian Princess ‘Tamut’ at the British Museum


“Certain areas will always be much visited. This is a very public and popular space. You will always, when you come here, have the privilege of being with others, which is wonderful.

Currently, director Hartwig Fischer said, some 37 per cent of the world’s landmass is absent or underrepresented in the public gallery space.

“When you look into the future, digital will play a much bigger role when it comes to making people engage with the collections and taking people through it.

 “You will be able to understand much more precisely what people are looking for, where their special interest is, how much time they have, do they come with kids or without kids.

“You will then be able to answer with a tailor-made suggestion as to where to go and perhaps take them to two or three other places they did not recognise.

“To make them see what they want to see, and then make them see yet another thing.”

Dr Fischer’s plans for the coming years include a pledge to “recalibrate the balance and presence of different cultures”, with too few objects from the likes of Australia, Papua New Guinea and Polynesia currently on permanent display.

The museum will open three new or refurbished permanent galleries in 2017-18, on China and South Asia, Japan and the Islamic world.



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