27 Nov 2014 2:00pm - 4:00pm SG2, Alison Richard Building


The CultureFinder project was supported by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts (Nesta, Arts & Humanities Research Council and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England) and led by the Fitzwilliam Museum to create and evaluate a mobile application implementing a visual interface displaying gallery/museum/public artworks on view in the vicinity of the user. The project aimed at engaging people with works rather than venues and/or blockbuster exhibitions. It focused on artworks and objects on public display (hidden treasures as well as star works) but often overlooked in favour of high profile temporary exhibitions. It sought to make connections between different collections and public art.

We thus explored two sets of tensions which play a key role in what it means to be a cultural tourist. The first of these is the tension between planning and serendipity, the second between 'culture' manifested as objects, and 'culture' experienced as places. The app we created deliberately set out to play on those tensions. We aimed from the start, for example, to encourage serendipitous discovery and entice users “off the beaten track”, away from the “blockbuster” sights they had researched in advance or thought they already knew. This encouragement took the form of nudges and suggestions, artfully concealing our attempts to prompt visitors' discovery of new paths and connections between the city's collected treasures behind a screen of useful functionality. During the course of the project the app's features were redesigned to appeal to the visitors who plan ahead, who like to know the distance they will have to walk and who read up online before they get there.

However, embedded in the same design are other features aimed providing scope for serendipity: the recommendations proposed by the ontology which underlies the visual browser, the location-aware suggestions designed to entice the user off the route they have carefully crafted, the levelling process implied in letting the collections of the Museums speak for themselves, rather than the biggest and best-resourced inevitably attracting the lion's share of the visitors.

The speakers are David Scruton (Fitzwilliam Museum) and Anne Alexander (DH Network / CRASSH)

The event is free to attend but registration is necessary. To book your place please click on the online registration link on this page.

For administrative enquiries please contact Michelle Maciejewska.

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