Daniela Petrelli

Empowering Cultural Heritage Professionals to Create Interactive Exhibitions


Output: Conference Paper

This research explores how complex technologies can be made accessible to non-technical heritage professionals empowering them to design personalised interactive visitor experiences. The study was part of an EU funded project ‘Material Encounters with Digital Cultural Heritage’ (meSch) led by Petrelli as PI.

While digital technology has been common in museums since the early 90s, cultural heritage professionals tend to act as clients commissioning a brief rather than creators of visitors’ experiences. Technical complexity being a major obstacle in creating and implementing digital interventions for interactive installations.

This research investigates two complementary elements of a socio-technical environment: the technical component (hardware and software), and the human aspect, concerned with the user experience.

This research informed the creation of a toolkit embedding sensors and multimedia outputs into objects and spaces overcoming the separation between the material/tangible qualities of heritage, and the multimedia digital content that heritage institutions hold.

The toolkit has been utilised at international venues including; The Atlantic Wall exhibition, Museon, Netherlands (2015), National Museum of War, Italy (2015), Chester’s Roman Fort (UNESCO) and English Heritage (2016-present). Dissemination includes; a review in The Guardian (2014), the New Media Consortium (2015 and 2016) and ‘Interactions magazine’ (2019). The work has been presented at invited keynote talks including; Museums as Intelligent Environments, Athens, Greece (2014), The EU Screen conference, Curating Europe’s Audio-visual Heritage (2015) and Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval (CHIIR 2019).

The toolkit was selected by the EU as Innovation for Cultural Heritage (2018) and is in the Plan for Digitisation and Innovation in Museums released by the Italian Department of Culture (2019).

The design process has been studied as part of a research project on Open Innovation by the Business School, University of Nottingham, funded by the British Academy.

Research Output

This collection of images displays the outputs from this project. Find out more details in the full case study below.

Research Method

Multiple research methods have been used in this 4-year project depending on the different phases of
the research, from early understanding, to design and development, to evaluation.

Key Methodologies:

Full Project Output

REF '21

To learn more about the output, methods and dissemination of this work, explore the full project submission.