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the small screen onto

the small screen onto the location where the scenes were shot. Or even more low-tech, in the Invisible Cities opera performed at Los Angeles’ Union Station, performers move throughout the courtyards, waiting rooms and ticket halls of the station. This presentation combines sight, sound, movement and audience participation for a heightened emotional impact; it appealed to younger audiences that do not typically attend operas in concert halls. What This Means for Society The psychology of scent has implications for architecture and urban planning: “medicinal urbanism” could expand the design palette to include scents to improve mood and promote good civic behavior. (One study from the Netherlands shows that people exposed to citrus-scented cleaning fluids were unconsciously prompted to keep their environment cleaner.) Multisensory experiences can be more accessible to people with one or more sensory limitations. Haptics can enhance the experience of people with compromised vision. (Using haptic devices can even rewire the visual centers of the brain to process touch input.) Sound can complement or replace visual cues. Commercial marketing firms, always poised to exploit technologies that create compelling and addictive experiences, are finding that if a picture is worth a million words, all five senses can be worth a million bucks. Brands are commissioning well-rounded sensory identities for their products—not only obvious candidates like food, drink and beauty products, but even travel and insurance. As marketing becomes more multidimensional, it may shape consumers in either of two ways: we may learn to “tune out” this sensory assault, just as we learn to ignore sidebar ads in our browsers, or our attention may become “retuned” to expect multisensory cues. What This Means for Museums Heritage is increasingly being defined as multisensory as well. The Fontoteca National (National Sound Archive) of Mexico, for example, declared the sounds of Mexico City to be part of the nation’s cultural patrimony. Many countries are identifying and controlling the names associated with traditional foods, such as France’s appellation d’origine contrôlée, or Italy’s denominazione di origine controllata. People are starting to recognize “smellscapes” as important and distinctive characteristics of cities that deserve to be mapped and preserved. As keepers of cultural heritage, museums may need to expand the boundaries of what they choose to preserve as well. Growing demand for multisensory experiences may pressure museums to routinely use more modalities in their exhibits and programs. MoMA even invited Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor to lead art lovers in a serenade 20

Above: Graphic design for a fictional museum conceptualized by Pratt Institute graduate student Shijia Gu. Courtesy of Shijia Gu. to works in current exhibitions, and indeed, New York Times culture critic Robin Pogrebin recently proclaimed music to be the “next big thing in museums…What you see in…exhibitions is a real coalescing of art forms—music, painting, sometimes a live element, video. It’s all a big mix now.” museums. The availability of these techniques, along with consumer preferences for multisensory experiences, might reset the baseline expectation for museums, from providers of primarily visual experiences, occasionally embellished with scent, sound or taste, to experts in synesthesia. While museums have long used relatively lowtech ways of incorporating scent into exhibits (“lift and sniff” panels; pumping scents into the air of walk-through dioramas), touch (via demonstration carts), sometimes taste and, as noted above, sound, the technologies reviewed in this essay provide more creative, seamless, personalized ways of creating multisensory Museums Might Want to… Routinely use multisensory design to provide accessible experiences for people with disabilities, such as the Met’s “multisensory stations” that invite all visitors to experience the exhibits though scent, touch, music and verbal imaging. Or like the Brooklyn Museum’s sensory tours, which include 3D printed 21

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