(This Post is a class requirement for History 9832b Interactive Exhibit Design)
I’ve been thinking about the War of 1812 Bicentennial and the anticipated tourists that will descend on Niagara-on-the-Lake this coming summer. Sure, for the kid in all of us, it’s going to be cool to watch 100’s of reenactors facing off with one another, smoke billowing, cannon’s firing, but really, we all just want to jump in and join the fray. The next best thing is to “bump” into the wandering reenactor/characters after the battle event of the day, get an understanding of who they represent and/or the period dress they work really hard to reproduce in exact historical detail. If you take the time to talk with the reenactors, they tend to represent someone very specific from the time frame and are quite enthusiastic about relaying any historical information about that person that they may have.
In talking about Interactive Exhibit Design, does it have to be in a fixed place? What if visitors could buy a t-shirt with a barcode on it that had all of the information needed to interact with the exhibits, venues and later in their own city or country? The barcode could be easily scanned by an interactive display, then based on the historical character that is encoded in the barcode, the display would then customize the museum experience from the perspective of that historical character. Essentially the visitor could live the historical life of a character of their choice.
Taking it up a notch, visitors wearing the barcode t-shirt could also use an App which when scanned by a smart device, would superimpose the character’s dress with the visitors head, within a historical environment. A little like those wooden displays where you stick your head through the hole. That App could also exchange historical information with another barcode wearing visitor, collecting historical characters both inside and outside of the venue.
Once the venue experience is over, that t-shirt travels with the visitor back home and in essence is carrying history with them, allowing non-venue visitors to also experience a little bit of the interactive history.
It’s a simple concept that I’d like to see happen!