Art of Play: Exploring the roles of technology and social play in museums

Isabel Cristina G. Froes, Kevin Walker

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterBook chapterEducationpeer-review


Play is a key element in cultural development, according to the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga.
Nowadays many of us interact with other people in online games and social networks, through multiple
digital devices. But harnessing playful activities for museum learning is mostly undeveloped. In this
chapter we explore play as a structure to support visitor learning, drawing from international research in
museums and interaction design. Specifically, we explore four aspects of play first proposed by Huizinga
(2002) — the ‘free-choice’ aspect of play, play as distinct from ‘real life,’ play as an ordering structure, and
the role of play in bridging communities. We argue that play provides museums with ready-made
structures and concepts which help them plan for visitor learning.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMuseums at Play : Games, Interaction and Learning
EditorsKaty Beale
Number of pages13
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
Publication date2011
ChapterTheory and Innovation
ISBN (Print)978-1-907697-13-5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Cultural Development
  • Playful Learning
  • Museum Interaction
  • Digital Devices in Play
  • Visitor Engagement


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