3D Technologies for Accessibility in Museums

Historians in the News
tags: museums, accessibility, interactive history

CAROLYN DILLIAN: Carolyn is an archaeologist, working in the field with communities and descendant groups and has also worked in archaeological museums, with expertise in laboratory methods.

KATIE STRINGER CLARY@DrMaryClary Katie is a Public Historian, who teaches a mix of history, museum, and public history courses. Her background is in museums, specifically in education and accessibility for people with learning and cognitive disabilities. Her current research is on human remains in museums.

In the fall of 2016, students and faculty from Coastal Carolina University attended the annual Reconstructive and Experimental Archaeology Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. The conference always includes a hands-on component like atlatl throwing, Viking bead-making, or other kinds of experiential learning. At the conference, Dr. Linda Hurcombe from University of Exeter gave a paper on using 3D technologies for accessibility to textiles and basketry at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, UK. As we listened to her paper and touched the 3D replica textiles she brought, we were able to connect with the past through artifacts in ways that are not always possible because of preservation and conservation concerns. Lightbulbs went off simultaneously above our heads. We could do this – we could combine our backgrounds and expertise and make a hands-on, 3D printed exhibit in our own town with our own students!

Please Fondle Our Artifacts

No museum sets out to intentionally obstruct their public audience with barriers. Some museums even actively fight against barriers using universal design techniques. However, even those with the best intentions often exclude visitors because of factors like disability, cost, language, and other limits to access. How can museums work with communities using innovative technologies to create a better experience for all? 3D scanning and printing may be one solution, as tactile experiences with the printed artifacts can help people build a tangible connection to the past.

In spring 2019, we set out to work with communities to create a tactile experience using 3D technologies. We combined our resources, applied for and received two grants, and reached out to our community contacts. Our local museum, the Horry County Museum, was receptive to working with us and our students, so we began the new semester with a goal of opening a brand new, from-scratch exhibit by April 30.

Read entire article at Nursing Clio

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