Struggling and Advocating for Visitor Inclusion: The Case of the National Museum of Colombia

This work focuses on the different struggles to enhance visitor access that museum professionals deal with when developing museum projects. The discussion is based on the participation of the National Museum of Colombia’s Department of Education during a museum renovation process and the design of projects targeting visitors with different disabilities. The article analyses the diverse motivations of museum departments and disciplines, their contradictions, and the need for policies and methodologies to ensure that visitors are placed at the centre of educational and cultural projects. Moreover, it questions the role of communities as passive targets and proposes a shift in the design and leadership of inclusive activities. The inclusive Volunteers Program, the integration of devices for “non-segregated” enjoyment, and the development of educational services for people with disabilities provide a framework not only to describe good practices, but also to discuss the difficulties and challenges that museums face when seeking to guarantee an on-going process of inclusion.

Virtualizing Conservation: Reflections on Conservation Theory

This article addresses to what extent computer applications contribute to museum conservation objectives, defined as the balance of preservation, investigation, and display of artifacts. It evaluates novel two- and three-dimensional digitization technologies for enhanced examination and recording. It provides case studies on alternative digital conservation methodologies for conservation operations. It approaches the coexistence of physical and digital artifacts critically within the museum environment. It explores the nature and transformations introduced in the theoretical frameworks for conservation and the interrelationships formed between traditional museum practices, conservation objectives, and computer applications. Results indicate that the proposed methodologies alter the dynamics of conservation. Digital techniques manage to balance between the core ideas of conservation. These are potentially initial steps for a new subdiscipline that will focus on virtualization of conservation practice, rather than digitization of artifacts.

The Inclusiveness of a Museum's Appeal Using Principles of Visual Persuasion

The appeal of most museums is inherently primarily visual. This paper makes use, therefore, of the theoretical work of Paul Messaris on visual persuasion to add insight into the persuasive messages present in the visual layout and design of one particular museum: the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. In the process, Messaris' key concepts of indexicality, iconicity (and an extension, analogical visual representation) and syntactic indeterminacy are first explained and then applied to the structure of the museum, as well as to the nature and layout of the collections themselves. The persuasive messages identified focus on, but are not limited to, the manner in which the museum reinforces the notion that it is inclusive both in the attributes of its collections and in the diversity of the types of patrons to which it appeals. Furthermore, reference to the public outreach materials offered by the museum are used to support the idea that these visually-oriented messages are intentional.