Developing digital media for museum exhibitions : environment, collaboration and delivery : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Museum Studies at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand

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This thesis explores the development and deployment of digital media in museum exhibitions. This thesis aims to discover how developing digital media contributes to new exhibition methodology and development processes in museums by investigating the development of the Tangata o le Moana exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa). A detailed study of the Tangata o le Moana exhibition at Te Papa, and two digital media elements within it; the New Home: Land of Plenty? video installation, and the Pacific Beats Mixing Booth, are the focus of the research. My experience of the exhibition is recorded. This is followed by participant interviews with the 3D designer and Interpreter. Development documents and organizational archives reveal motivations and goals in developing digital media for exhibitions. In order to place the research in a wider context of exhibition design and visitor behaviour, it focused on three key elements in exhibition creation - environment (the physical and social space), collaboration (the effect of the relationships on development) and delivery (the exhibition). This data is compared with current literature regarding exhibition development. The research demonstrates that by incorporating digital media into exhibitions a new relationship in the exhibition space develops. New museological ideas that place exhibitions in an open-ended framework can align with constructivist learning techniques. Combined with experiential environments and creating liminal experiences, there is significant potential for digital media to contribute to new exhibition methodologies. The environmental effects of digital media combined with the focus on the media content rather than ‘real things’ indicates a divergence from traditional museum practice. The thesis argues that these experiential and liminal experiences are largely incidental. Narrative forms of exhibition development predominate. This indicates that involving collaborators with expertise in digital media and experience design is not contributing to developing new exhibition practices.
Digital media in exhibits, Museum exhibits, Museum exhibition development, Tangata o le Moana, "New Home: Land of Plenty?", Te Papa museum