Sensing context: Reflexive design principles for intersensory museum interactions

Published Paper


Harley, Daniel, Melanie McBride, Jean Ho Chu, Jamie Kwan, Jason Nolan and Ali Mazalek. "Sensing context: Reflexive design principles for intersensory museum interactions." MW2016: Museums and the Web 2016. Published January 16, 2016. Consulted April 27, 2016.


Artifacts in cultural history museums are typically enclosed in glass displays, decontextualized from their social and cultural origins, resulting in a "look, but don't touch" encounter. With reference to perspectives and counter-perspectives of the "multisensory museum" (Levent & Pascual-Leone, 2014), this paper describes our development of experimental interactive prototypes based on early sixteenth-century boxwood prayer-nuts. Our work aims to engage the historical, social, and cultural contexts through sensory interactions involving smell, touch, and sound, with visual and aural feedback. Given the neglect of smell from many museum encounters, we draw special attention to our conceptualization, design, and implementation of a novel smell interaction. Building on these experiences, we offer an "intersensory" intervention of the multisensory paradigm through our considerations for meaningful, contextual, and inclusive design with the senses.

Year Published



Sensory and Interactive Museums

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