Doing What Museums Have Always Done

In order to finish up her Bachelor of Technology in Network Administration from Alfred State College, Cordelia McBride interned at The Corning Museum of Glass in the Information Technology department. She interned full-time and spent 525 hours at CMoG to complete this task. She thoroughly enjoyed working under each and every staff member in the IT department and wanted to give special thanks to the three guys who kindly took her under their wings: Damon Smith, Wes Lobdell, and Aaron Sheeley. Cordelia was so inspired by the interworkings of the IT infrastructure here that she ended up writing a 10-page paper on Museums and Technology for her final paper. In this shortened version of that paper, she describes her experience working at the Museum.

At one time, if a person were to hear the word museum and then hear the word technology, he or she might have a hard time trying to make an association between the two. One might think that museums are meant to preserve the old, and it might not appear that the old and new are dependent on one another. Why might the Mona Lisa care if she were to be surrounded by iPads, high-end security equipment, and temperature monitoring devices? If she knew better, she would care very much, and she would realize that high-end security equipment and temperature monitoring provides her with preservation and security. Through the use of mobile technology such as an iPad, she would also realize that devices like this are providing everyone who lays eyes on her mysterious smile with an unlimited platform for knowledge. When people start thinking in these terms, they find a fluid balance between old and new.

IT intern Cordelia McBride gives a thumbs-up to the glass flower she made.

IT intern Cordelia McBride gives a thumbs-up to
the glass flower she made at the museum.

This dependency provides the grounds for what has become apparent to me during my internship at The Corning Museum of Glass. Museums are completely dependent on technology in order to provide the public with, not only collections, but also information and security. Modern museums require increased management, and a great deal of this management can be aided and informed through the use of the technology-driven devices and processes. The whole idea of a museum’s identity and its place within the community has changed because of the increased use of browser-based applications, web applications, and mobile devices. It would also be impossible to control temperatures and offer high levels of security to artifacts if it was not for the increase in technological devices.

All a person has to do is enter The Corning Museum of Glass to see each of these things in the real-world environment. This complexity is especially apparent while viewing the new Contemporary Art + Design wing of the Museum, and it is incredibly beneficial in supporting those who work here. Perhaps Mona Lisa would not be aware of how important technology is to maintaining collections, ensuring security and temperature control, and providing user access and tracking, but the public and managers of these collections are keenly aware of the large role technology plays in their experience. Museums have adapted to the digital age and emerging technologies so that they can do what they have always done, and this is to provide a meaningful and fully-rounded experience to their users.

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