Vol. 2 No. 2 (2022): Time

Designing Authenticity in Virtual Museum Tours

Adrienne Gálosi
Pécsi Tudományegyetem

Published 2022-12-22


  • virtual museum tour,
  • authenticity,
  • originality,
  • actual vs. virtual,
  • materiality

How to Cite

Gálosi, A. (2022). Designing Authenticity in Virtual Museum Tours. Papers in Arts and Humanities, 2(2), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.52885/pah.v2i2.112


The paper focuses on the virtual tours that major institutions feature as part of their sites. As these tours often promise an authentic experience, the question of what means here arises. Since such programs do not simply serve to show digital images of museum objects but also convey a quasi-presence, the paper proposes to examine the authenticity of the experience of the virtual tour in comparison to the physical one. On the other hand, it also looks at the possible authenticity of museum exhibits in the virtual space. To do this, not only the notion of authenticity needs to be clarified, but also that of the virtual. Following Walter Benjamin’s approach, the paper examines what conception of time can constitute authenticity. Upon the concept of authenticity remaining the same in the case of the virtual, the paper opposes two positions: one is the historian’s view, and the other is that of the postmodern cultural critic. A comparison of their possible arguments aims to show that whatever we bring up against the virtual can also be played off—at least partly—against the traditional museum. In conclusion, it argues that these two museum forms are still part of the same museum paradigm.


  1. Benjamin, W. (2006). The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility. (E. Jephcott & H. Zohn, Trans.). In H. Eiland & M. W. Jennings (Eds.), Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, 3: 1935–1938 (pp. 101–133). Belknap Press. (Original work published 1936)
  2. Bergson, H. (1990). Matter and memory (N. M. Paul & W. S. Palmer, Trans.). Zone Books. (Original work published 1890)
  3. Bryant, A., & Pollock, G. (Eds.). (2010). Editor’s introduction. In Digital and other virtualities (pp. 1–23). I.B. Tauris.
  4. Crowther, P. (2008). Ontology and aesthetics of digital art. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 66(2), 161–170. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6245.2008.00296.x
  5. Deleuze, G. (1989). Cinema 2. The time-image (H. Tomlinson & R. Galeta, Trans.). University of Minnesota Press. (Original work published 1985)
  6. Deleuze, G. (1994). Difference and repetition (P. Patton, Trans.; p. 350 Pages). Columbia University Press. (Original work published 1969)
  7. Dewdney, A., Dibosa, D., & Walsh, V. (2013). Post-critical museology, theory and practice in the art museum. Routledge.
  8. Foucault, M. (1986). Of other spaces (J. Miskowiec, Trans.). Diacritics, 16(1), 22–27. https://doi.org/10.2307/464648 (Original work published 1984)
  9. Friedberg, A. (2009). The virtual window: From Alberti to Microsoft. MIT Press.
  10. Giaccardi, E. (2006). Collective storytelling and social creativity in the virtual museum: A case study. Design Issues, 22(3), 29–41. https://doi.org/10.1162/desi.2006.22.3.29
  11. Hillis, K. (1999). Digital sensations: Space, identity, and embodiment in virtual reality. University of Minnesota Press.
  12. Kholeif, O. (2014). The curator’s new medium. In O. Kholeif (Ed.), You are here: Art after the internet. Cornerhouse and Space.
  13. Lévy, P. (2019). Becoming virtual, reality in the digital age. Plenum Trade.
  14. Manovich, L. (2001). The language of new media. The MIT Press.
  15. McTavish, L. (2005). Visiting the virtual museum: Art and experience online. In J. Marstine (Ed.), New museum theory and practice (pp. 226–246). Wiley-Blackwell.
  16. Mitchell, W. J. (1992). The reconfigured eye. The MIT Press.
  17. Parry, R. (2005). Digital heritage and the rise of theory in museum computing. Museum Management and Curatorship, 20(4), 333–348. https://doi.org/10.1080/09647770500802004
  18. Parry, R. (2013). The end of the beginning: Normativity in the postdigital museum. Museum Worlds, 1(1), 24–39. https://doi.org/10.3167/armw.2013.010103
  19. Paulsen, K. (2013). The index and the interface. Representations, 122(1), 83–109. https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2013.122.1.83
  20. Peacock, D. (2007). Digital ICTs: Driver or vehicle of organisational change? In J. Trant & D. Bearman (Eds.), International Cultural Heritage Informatics Meeting (ICHIM07): Proceedings. Archives & Museum Informatics. https://www.archimuse.com/ichim07/papers/peacock/peacock.html
  21. Riegl, A. (1982). The modern cult of monuments: Its character and its origin (K. W. Forster & D. Ghirardo, Trans.). Oppositions, 25, 21–51. (Original work published 1903)
  22. Rousseaux, F., & Thouvenin, I. (2009). Exploring informed virtual sites through Michel Foucault’s heterotopias. International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing, 3(1–2), 175–191. https://doi.org/10.3366/ijhac.2009.0015
  23. Semper, G. (2007). The ideal museum: Practical art in metals and hard materials. Schlebrügge. (Original work published 1852)
  24. Seregi, T. (2019). Virtuality versus simulacrum. Pragmatism Today, 10(2), 116–122.
  25. Simmel, G. (1959). The ruin (D. Kettler, Trans.). In K. H. Wolff (Ed.), & D. Kettler (Trans.), Georg Simmel, 1858-1918; a collection of essays, with translations and a bibliography (pp. 259–266). Ohio State University Press. (Original work published 1911)
  26. Stoichita, V. I. (1997). The self-aware image: An insight into early modern meta-painting. Cambridge University Press.
  27. Sundar, S. S., Go, E., Kim, H.-S., & Zhang, B. (2015). Communicating art, virtually! Psychological effects of technological affordances in a virtual museum. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 31(6), 385–401. https://doi.org/10.1080/10447318.2015.1033912
  28. Vidler, A. (2000). Warped space: Art, architecture, and anxiety in modern culture. The MIT Press.