Exploring the Digital Future of Museums with James Cuno

Renegade Tours

In 2015, James Cuno of the J. Paul Getty Trust took the stage at the World Economic forum to give us a vision of the future.  In his inspiring talk, “Visions of Digital Culture: The Future of Museums,” Cuno showcased the amazing promise of digital culture for revolutionizing how museums can affect their communities.

As Cuno stated, “There’s tremendous promise in digitised assets and information, and it’s taken us into a revolutionary moment in the responsiveness of museums.”

Clendenin, Jay –– B581646849Z.1 LOS ANGELES, CA––NOVEMBER 1, 2011––President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Dr. James Cuno is photographed in the President's office conference room, at the Getty, Nov. 1, 2011. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)
President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Dr. James Cuno is photographed in the President’s office conference room, at the Getty, Nov. 1, 2011. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

Make Deep Connections

Cuno’s talk explores how museums can use the digital realm to make deeper connections with visitors, enabling them to be active co-creators of their museum experiences.  The digital realm also invites visitors to find personally meaningful connections with the objects on display (and not on display).  These connections are vital to museums, enabling visitors to become personally invested in museums:

“So you’re beginning a relationship before you even come. They have their own device and can download an audio tour when they come into the exhibition. They can design their own experience of the exhibition, and can begin to learn more about what the exhibition is all about. Instagram, for instance, also allows people to curate their own experience of the Getty, and introduces them to the possibility that this is something they can be engaged in.”

Invite Audiences to Continue Learning

Cuno also discussed how museums can utilize and contribute to Open Content, further empowering visitors to continue learning and engaging with the museum both during and long after the visit.  For example, with nearly 60,000 art history books digitized so far, the Getty Research Portfolio empowers visitors to download texts, discover where paintings come from and their journey to the museum, and engage in a network of associations that enhance visitors’ understanding of one work and invite them to explore related works.

Cuno’s talk took us on a journey to discover a myriad of ways that museums can – and should – be adapting to the digital age.  Watch his entire talk in the video below:

Curious how social media can help your audiences deeply engage with your museum? Contact us to learn how we can help infuse your museum with “low-tech, high-touch” experiences that invite visitors to meaningfully engage with your collections and institution.

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