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Mobile phones 'could play a role in museums'

21.04.2008
Mobile phones could play a part in encouraging people to contribute their own stories to museums, according to research to be presented at the University of Leicester.

Mobile media has potential to ‘capture the everyday’ which can be used to enhance museum knowledge.

The Everyday Museum is the title of the Doctoral Inaugural Lecture to be given by Dr Kostas Arvanitis on 23th April, at 5.30pm in the Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 3.

Dr Arvanitis, a graduate of the University of Leicester who is now a lecturer at the University of Manchester, wrote in his PhD thesis: ‘In the end, the museum happens in the everyday’.

In his Lecture, Dr Arvanitis will ‘rewind’ this idea and address a theoretical paradox and a practical difficulty: how museums, those static, authoritative and ‘out of the everyday’ institutions can access and capture contemporary everyday life and its knowledge.

Dr Arvanitis will talk about archaeological ruins preserved in streets and parks of cities and the ways residents make meaning of them in their everyday life. He will, also, highlight how different often those interpretations are to the knowledge that museums hold and disseminate about the same ruins. Consequently, he will ask: ‘Should museums ‘pay attention’ to everyday meanings of such archaeological remains and other outdoor museum objects’? ‘If so, how can museums capture those everyday meanings?’ ‘How might mobile media contribute toward this? And ‘what happens to the museum when it opens up to the everyday and starts collecting its knowledge?

To address those questions, Dr Arvanitis will draw on Eilean Hooper-Greenhill’s idea of the ‘post-museum’, Michel de Certeau’s understanding of everyday life and findings from his doctoral empirical research. He will focus the discussion around archaeological monuments in a Greek city and the residents’ everyday meanings of them.

Dr Arvanitis will argue that mobile media, in particular mobile phones, offer a potential to bridge museums and everyday life. Museums can use mobile phones not only to broadcast museum knowledge to people ‘on the move’, but also to turn up the volume and listen to ‘on the move’ everyday meanings of museum objects. In this context, as Dr Arvanitis will argue, ‘the museum happens in the everyday, through the active participation of the public and the use of mobile media’.

Biographical note:

Kostas is Lecturer at the Centre for Museology, University of Manchester. Prior to joining the Centre, Kostas worked as Research Associate in Digital Heritage at the Department of Museum Studies in Leicester, where he also completed his PhD thesis. His PhD research drew on Hooper-Greenhill's notion of the post-museum and Henri Lefebvre's and Michel de Certeau's theories of everyday life to investigate the relation between museums, everyday life and mobile media. In particular, the thesis explored the potential of using mobile phones to capture everyday meanings of three archaeological monuments in Thessaloniki (Greece). It then went on to argue that the museum becomes a process that happens in everyday life, through the active participation of the public and the use of mobile media. Kostas holds, also, a MA degree in Museum Studies (University of Leicester) and a first degree in History and Archaeology (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece).

His research interests cross the fields of (public) archaeology, museology and digital media. He is particularly interested in the use of mobile technology in museums, such as mobile phones and hand-held computers, the use of social media in museums, the relationship between museums and everyday life and the role of museum exhibitions in outdoor and informal environments.

Ather Mirza | alfa
Further information:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk

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