Digital storytelling as a framework for a new narrative in museums
Santen, Marieke van
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In their mission to shed their past as institutions aimed at reform and educating the public on art, museums want to be more accessible, more diverse, and more inclusive. A mission they incorporated in their, in 2022 updated, definition of the museum. Critically exploring their role as the authority in the field, they aim at creating a new narrative in participation with multi-variegated communities. Building on the notion that this role is still embedded in the stories these museums tell, often displaying a linear art-history, this thesis looks at how a tool such as digital storytelling contributes to building these new narratives. By exploring two multimedia museum apps on their capacity for telling non-linear and more diverse and inclusive stories, the thesis explored how the apps contribute to the museums’ diversity and inclusion objectives. Two Dutch museums known for their digital innovation: the traditional national Rijksmuseum with a rich collection of Dutch art and the recently opened first publicly accessible Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen were selected. Both museums launched their multimedia app as tools which give the visitor a sense of being part of the collection and being more in control of the narrative. Systematically analysing both apps by using the walkthrough method and a textual analysis, this thesis focuses on how some content and technical elements comply with the ideology but at the same time other content and technical elements in the app, as well as the infrastructure behind the apps (the collection database), cause the app to still display a rather linear art-history. This thesis claims that although the museums use their apps to present the user and work with the user towards a more diverse and inclusive storytelling, technical limitations in the apps and gaps in the digital infrastructure still display a mostly linear art-history with stories lacking in diversity and inclusion.