“Reading parties” and other interactive activities in Museums
Rita Maschwitz

Created at the end of the 19th century as guardian temples of our past, museums and art institutions are rapidly adapting to the social and cultural movements of the new century. Faced with the growing lack of public and apathy towards passive contemplation, they are increasingly incorporating interactive and extra-artistic activities into their programs.


For example, some days a year, the Malba Museum invites readers, no age limit, to read and disconnect from technology in different spaces of their building. The event proposes different alternatives so that the participants feel comfortable and modify the space based on their reading practices.

The idea behind these “reading parties”, already in its seventh edition, is to encourage the creation of spaces that help establish a healthier balance between the technological world and the real world.

It is evident that the public of the museum is no longer satisfied with just looking at what is hanging, on the contrary, it seeks to live a different experience during their visit.

Pioneer in the creation of new experiences with the public, the Metropolitan Museum of New York called, during the first months of 2017, Monica Bill Barnes & Cia and the writer and illustrator Maira Kalman, for the creation of an interactive tour that would allow the Visitor tour the galleries of the museum dancing and jumping. Before starting with the Museum WorkOut participants were suggested not to make any effort to understand what they saw, the purpose of the exercise was to take the rooms of the museum as a great stage where they interact in an unprejudiced manner with what surrounded them.

But this growing emergence of alternative interactions means for many the end of the museum as we know it. They see the loss of the traditional role of a place of passive contemplation and sacredness as a shelter for our history.

Still, I can not help wondering how museums are using these new modes of interaction as a way to stay alive. Perhaps ironically the best way to preserve it is the old and well-known “adapt or die” strategy. Yoga classes at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London may be the reason why we enter the museum every Saturday, but the guided tour that follows is what really amazes us.

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