2010 Horizon.museum Short List

2010 Horizon.museum Report Short List pdf

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

Critical Challenges

Key Trends


Key Trends


The abundance of resources and relationships induced by open resources and social networks is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators in sense making, coaching and credentialing. Access to educational materials of all kinds has never been so easy or so open as it is today, and this trend is only increasing. The model of the museum curator or museum educator who stands in front of an object and interprets meaning for a passive audience is simply no longer realistic in this world of instant access. Museum professionals must respond by changing their roles to reflect the new need to guide and coach visitors in finding, interpreting, and making their own connections with collections and ideas. Museums must also be more willing to see themselves as learners, taking advantage of user-generated content to enhance the overall understanding of collections.

Collection-related rich media are becoming increasingly valuable assets in digital interpretation. Museums are beginning to see the value in developing formal strategies for capturing high-quality media documentation at every opportunity. Working more closely than ever with educators and researchers, museums are embracing the opportunities provided by rich media to enhance multimodal learning both online and in the galleries. Video, audio, and animations are no longer seen as afterthoughts in interpretation but increasingly as necessary components of an interpretive plan. This trend is beneficial to museum professionals and visitors alike as it encourages a deeper understanding of objects, ideas, and audiences.

Cross-institution collaboration is growing as another way to share resources. Museums are increasingly aware of the ways in which content including, but not limited to, unmediated collections data, may be seen and used in the broader networked environment. The days of gigantic, multi-year, foundation-funded collaborative projects are probably on the wane. Increasingly, multi-institutional collaboration will probably occur at the data level with institutions being collaborative partners only in a passive sense, and the real work of pulling multiple resources together being accomplished downstream, possibly by third-party organizations.

Digitization and cataloguing projects continue to require a significant share of museum resources. Museums are distinguished by the content they keep and interpret. There is an increasing understanding among museum professionals that visitors expect to be able to readily access accurate and interesting information and high-quality media. This requires museums to plan strategically for the digitization and cataloging of collections. These projects frequently require sacrifices in terms of scarce resources (money, personnel, and time) in order to meet long-term goals.

Increasingly, the expectation is for a seamless experience across devices. Whether viewing curated galleries centered around objects and ideas or making a virtual visit to a museum’s website, visitors expect museums to provide content. More and more, patrons want the experience of interacting with that content using the device of their choice, wherever and whenever they choose to do so. Virtual visitors in particular expect to be able to perform certain tasks online, and to be able to accomplish them on the device of their — and not the museum’s — choosing, but this is increasingly true of visitors to the physical space as well.

Increasingly, we expect to be connected wherever we go. Wireless network access, mobile networks, and personal portable networks have made it easy to remain connected almost anywhere. We are increasingly impatient of places where it is not possible, or where it is prohibitively expensive, to be connected, such as airplanes in flight and countries outside our own mobile networks. The places where we cannot connect are shrinking — some flights provide wireless access, for instance — and our expectations of immediate access to our personal information, multi-level communication, and interaction with the world are more frequently met.

Momentum is building for linked data/semantic web and open data. Many museum professionals, albeit primarily those in information technology departments, are beginning to understand that there is a role for museums in helping to make sense of the vast amount of data available to us all. Museums have ever been places of ideas, but until recently the use-cases and examples for what can be done with linked data have been limited. Momentum will increase as more in the field, particularly those involved in content creation and interpretation, have a better understanding of the opportunities offered by the semantic web. Perhaps of more importance than museum data is the matrix of contextual data in which it sits and which can then inspire museum professionals, educators, and visitors alike to think of new things to do with cultural heritage information.

More and more, people expect to be able to work, learn, study, and connect with their social networks wherever and whenever they want to. We are not tied to desks anymore when we wish to use computers. Workers increasingly expect to be able to work from home or from the road, and most everyone expects to be able to get information, addresses, directions, reviews, and answers whenever they want, this is a key trend for both museum professionals and museum visitors. Mobile access to information is changing the way we plan everything from outings to errands. A corollary of this trend is the expectation that people will be available and online, anywhere and anytime.