Facing the Future: Natural User Interfaces and Transmedia Spaces in Museums

Scott Gillam, Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Canada, Liz Neely, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, USA, Corey Timpson, Corey Timpson Design Inc., Canada

Published paper: Facing the future: Natural user Interfaces and transmedia spaces in museums

In 2016, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) began development of the exhibition “Rights of Passage.” This exhibition explores human rights history in Canada over the 150 years since Confederation—how the rights and freedoms we now enjoy were fought for by those before us who refused to stay silent in the face of inequality and injustice, examining concepts and stories of courageous actions that inspire us to continue to work for the rights of all. The challenge undertaken with this exhibition was to immerse visitors within content in a way that encouraged relevance. Design direction focused on two primary tactics—medium and material— both creatively used to provoke visitor action, participation, and create relevance.

Experience design through the “Rights of Passage” exhibition builds on CMHR’s reputation of mixed media presentation, immersive and layered storytelling, and integrating physical artifact, text, and image within transmedia storytelling. Included in the presentation are traditional media interfaces such as a radio and television, gesture and audio activated experiences, culminating in augmented spaces that include user-contributed content, wearable technology, and 3D-virtual artifacts (holograms). The boundaries of progressive storytelling and education are expanded through this design, placing the visitor at the center of a shared experience that is both physical and virtual in nature.

Exhibition design is increasingly under the obligation to create hybrid spaces that merge the real and the virtual. The opportunities and drawbacks of new technology are creating seismic changes in how museums balance storytelling, scholarship, collection of physical objects, digitization, and enabling visitor engagement in both physical and digital environments. This paper explores the locus of innovation in relationships between human computer interaction, virtual artefacts, and the internet of things.


Bahram, S., S. Gillam, C. Timpson, & B. Wyman. (2016). "Inclusive design: From approach to execution." MW2016: Museums and the Web 2016. Published February 24, 2016. Consulted January 13, 2018. https://mw2016.museumsandtheweb.com/paper/inclusive-design-from-approach-to-execution/

Black, Jaime. The REDress Project. Retrieved 31 January 2018. Available at http://www.theredressproject.org/

Hayes, Jim. “Optical Fiber.” The Fiber Optic Association, Inc. 2015 http://www.thefoa.org Retrieved 31 January 2018.