In Shelley’s previous post, she announced the installation of QR codes installed in exhibitions that lead visitors to Wikipedia articles for further information. These QR codes are now found in Egypt Reborn and the Hagop Kevorkian Gallery of Ancient Near Eastern Art, both on the third floor of the Museum.
As a curator I have always wanted our visitors to have access to more information about the collection than is usually available. I’ve long been frustrated that the 100-word label provides only the briefest introduction to an object. So when Shelley suggested that there was a way to bring in-depth information into the gallery for those who want it, I was happy to help find appropriate material. For example, the code on the label for the Museum’s statue of Senwosret III will take you to an article about the king’s reign. There you will find information on his building projects, his appointment of his son as co-regent—a sort of co-king-in-training—and his pyramid. All of this information is drawn from the latest scientific studies of the reign. The QR code with the faience shabti called “The Lady Sati” leads you to an article describing the process of making this material drawn from a basic Egyptology source—Paul T. Nicholson and Ian Shaw’s Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology.
All of the articles linked to the Museum’s objects have been vetted by curators. When we read an article, we could see from the footnotes whether or not it was based on standard interpretations by professional, scientific scholars. Ancient Egyptian art is the object of interest for both scientific scholars and a wide variety of other researchers using non-scientific means. The Museum adheres to scientific standards, so curators insured that all the linked articles are part of our interpretive tradition.
Wikipedia’s reputation with scholars and teachers is a mixed bag. Many teachers forbid its use because students are not always ready to read the articles found there critically. I was also wary about linking the Museum’s objects to a source that varies greatly in quality. But with proper vetting, Wikipedia offers additional background about the Museum’s objects based on the best information. I hope that this experiment with QR codes will help enhance the visitor’s experience in visiting the Egyptian and Ancient Near East collections.