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Museums in a Changing World – The Evolution of museums

Museums in a Changing World – The Evolution of museums

The Changing Face of Museums

When I was younger, a visit to a museum could be a dry and boring affair. Walking amongst glass cases of items you could look at but not touch, lots of text and no interaction. Today technology is changing the look and role of museums, with highly interactive exhibits creating a more engaging and entertaining environment, somewhere children (and us grown-ups!) would like to spend a day.

Today we have access to information at our fingertips. If we want to find information, we can have an answer in seconds often supplemented with images, video, and interpretation. Use of social media and online technology has reduced our attention span, a recent study by Microsoft Corporation found the increasing use of ‘instant’ technology means we struggle to stay focused to the point that the human attention span has shortened to just 8 seconds. In this environment, modern museums must carve a niche where they are considered a destination and can fulfill their role as educators in a rapidly changing environment. When you discover 90% of the world’s data has been created within the last two years, you start to understand how rapidly change is occurring.

The History of Museums

The very first museums were the private collections of wealthy individuals or institutions. Rare or curious objects and artifacts displayed in so-called ‘wonder rooms’ or ‘cabinets of curiosities’. The oldest recorded example is Ennigaldi-Nanna’s museum, dating from 530 BC and devoted to Mesopotamian antiquities.

The oldest public collections of art were the Capitoline Museums which were created in 1471 when Pope Sixtus IV donated a group of important ancient sculptures to the people of Rome. There was a growth of museums in Italy during the Renaissance, however, most of the major modern museums in the world opened during the 18th century. Museums were considered storehouses of knowledge and in an age before mass communication and the internet where the ability to see rare objects was the major draw.

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Capitoline Hill Museum

    The Museum Renaissance

    Museums changed over the last generation. A recent report stated, “attitudes toward museums have become more favorable over the last generation as they shed their image of stuffiness and sterility and become more entertaining and interactive.” Museums are a major part of the economy, museums sustain more than 400,000 jobs and directly contribute $21 Billion to the US economy each year according to an AAM Financial Information Survey.

    One of the major issues museums face is many people had only visited on school trips many years before, and assume nothing has changed. People feel museums are still boring and staid even though many have come up to date and are presenting a considerably more interactive experience.

    Technology And The Modern Museum

    Technology plays a major part in modern museums, with considerable use of multimedia, touch screens, and digital displays as well as cutting edge interactive technologies.

    Interactive technology is a good way to turn the museum experience from a being passive into something truly engaging and educational, even for a younger audience who otherwise remain glued to their smartphones. As Sree Sreenivasan, the chief digital officer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City states, “Our competition is Netflix and Candy Crush and not other museums“. The museum has fully embraced technology with a staff of 70 in the digital-media department, and 70 more managing technology throughout the museum.

    The Metropolitan Museum looked for a number of opportunities for visitors to engage with the collections, allowing them to use their smartphones to access recorded guides and other information by scanning the artwork.

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    They are just one of many museums using technology to create a better experience for their visitors. The Brooklyn Museum is testing the use of ibeacons, small Bluetooth devices which interact with an app on a visitor’s phone. As they move through the galleries, they interact with museum experts and get additional information about the artwork they are viewing.

    Interactive video is another tool being utilized to support education. In the UK, the Parliamentary Education center at the Houses of Parliament provides a 360-degree video screen system to engage with children, bringing the history of the building and the role of democracy to life.

    Houses of Parliament

      The video system is used as an immersive ‘Discovery’ space, a sensory, interactive room that plunges students into an immersive environment via the use of 360° projection technology. The system takes students through a 15-minute virtual tour of Parliament, virtual recreations of the House of Commons and House of Lords chamber, a history of democracy, and recreations of historical events connected to each Chamber. The center is used for school visits and welcomes over 100,000 students per year, over double what they could accommodate within their previous environment.

      Case Study – College Football Hall of Fame

      College football is watched by over 200 million people annually and the teams have a massive following. One of the places on the bucket list of many fans is the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia.

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      The hall of fame was created in 1951 by the National Football Foundation and had previously been based in Indiana. In 2009 the hall of fame moved to a new 100,000 square foot, $68 million dollar, facility in Atlanta.

      Similar to many other sports museums it immortalizes and remembers the players and coaches from college football teams across the USA. However, when the hall of fame was moved they decided against a traditional style of museum filled with static displays and artifacts behind glass. They went for a considerably more interactive environment where visitors could get the feel of what it is like to be a college football star.

      The hall of fame is packed with interactive elements like videos and games, places where you can take selfies wearing digitally superimposed face paint, and even a football field where you can take your best shot at kicking a field goal.

      The experience starts with ‘The Quad’ where you walk through a tunnel hearing the sound of cleats walking beside and an ever increasing crowd noise as if you are about to step onto the field yourself.  As you step out you are faced with a 40-foot wall of football helmets from each of the 768 college football teams.

      Interactivity starts with the visitor registration process, visitors are asked for their local team as they enter and the corresponding helmet is illuminated on the wall.

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      College Football Hall of Fame

        This is just the first part of a fully personalized experience using a RFID chip embedded in the visitor’s ticket. Activities throughout their visit display their team’s colors and logos.

        The interactivity does not end when the visitor leaves the museum. The registration data can be used to encourage return visits and send personalized updates about their favorite team. It was important to create a highly engaging visitor experience that would act as a competitive unique selling point against other attractions in the area.

        Overall the College Football Hall of Fame is the most technologically advanced in the country, the National Football Federation took advantage of the move to completely rethink what their museum should be, and to ensure that it embraced the latest technology.

        The technology partners Onepath worked in partnership with the hall of fame to design the project and manage this mammoth project. The building employs both wired and wireless networks with infrastructure which manages every part of operations from security and access control systems to the visitor interactions and audio visual systems.

        The hall of fame is a good example of how museums need to evolve as interactive attractions, and that a partnership with technology is vital when it comes to planning any modern establishment. Greater visitor engagement and better data allow for a longer lasting relationship with museum guests, leading to more return visits.

        Image Sources: Houses of Parliament, Capitoline Museums, National College Hall of Fame

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        Published on November 14, 2018

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

        For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

        In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

        Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

        Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

        It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

        For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

        Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

        Symptoms of Fatigue

        Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

        • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
        • mental blocks
        • lack of motivation
        • headache
        • dizziness
        • muscle weakness
        • slowed reflexes and responses
        • impaired decision-making and judgement
        • moodiness, such as irritability
        • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
        • reduced immune system function
        • blurry vision
        • short-term memory problems
        • poor concentration
        • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

        Causes of Fatigue

        The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

        • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
        • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
        • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
        • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

        Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

        Medical Causes of Fatigue

        If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

        Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

        Anemia

        Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

        Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

        There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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        This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

        Diabetes

        Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

        Sleep Apnea

        Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

        Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

        Thyroid disease

        An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

        Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

        • Lack of sleep
        • Too much sleep 
        • Alcohol and drugs 
        • Sleep disturbances 
        • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
        • Poor diet 

        Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

        • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
        • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
        • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
        • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

        Psychological Causes of Fatigue

        Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

        • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
        • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
        • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

        How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

        Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

        1. Tell The Truth

        Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

        To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

        Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

        The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

        One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

        • How you feel
        • What time of day it is
        • What may have contributed to your fatigue
        • How your mind and body reacts

        This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

        2. Reduce Your Commitments

        When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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        If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

        When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

        Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

        3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

        If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

        Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

        If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

        Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

        Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

        4. Express More Gratitude

        Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

        It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

        Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

        5. Focus On Yourself

        Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

        There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

        But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

        We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

        6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

        Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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        Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

        The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

        Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

        7. Take a Power Nap

        When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

        Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

        This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

        8. Take More Exercise

        The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

        Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

        The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

        You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

        9. Get More Quality Sleep

        To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

        Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

        My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

        10. Improve Your Diet

        Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

        Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

        On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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        To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

        Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

        Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

        11. Manage Your Stress Levels

        Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

        When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

        Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

        My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

        12. Get Hydrated

        Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

        Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

        If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

        The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

        The Bottom Line

        These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

        If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

        Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
        [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
        [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
        [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
        [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
        [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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