After reading a number of articles about virtual reality and its potential value for the museum world, I found myself wondering about the nature of museums themselves. Maurizio Forte–after exhausting his readers with jargon-packed musings on the “ecology of the Virtual” (brave his article Ecological Cybernetics, Virtual Reality, and Virtual Heritage if you want an explanation)–posits that museums already act similarly to Virtual Realities. He suggests that by taking artifacts out of their original contexts, museums become neutral, social spaces where visitors can develop their own understanding of the objects. Although historians and curators attempt to provide as much historical context and cultural information about the pieces in their collections, the museum gallery inherently provides a different setting in which visitors will observe and scrutinize artifacts.
What do you think about the museum as a supposedly neutral space? Do you think virtual reality could enhance your museum experience by providing a different sort of context for artifacts?