Museums and art galleries are coming up with innovative ways to enhance visitors' experiences from offering augmented reality apps as exhibition guides to inviting visitors to become part of the museum curation process through crowd-sourcing. There are a number of benefits museums and galleries can gain from embracing digital including:
Increased engagement with visitors
Greater participatory experiences for visitors
Extending visitors experiences by offering them the opportunity to preview an exhibition before they even arrive at the institution and further, explore and re-visit them after
Developing an online community
Interactive education - using increased interactivity to improve educational engagement
Here we look at a few examples of how galleries and museums are integrating digital innovation into their offering.
Visitors to the exhibition direct their Android and iOS devices at signs attached to certain objects within the exhibition, through augmented reality a 'virtual May' talks to visitors about the story behind the object. Users are presented with a quiz at the end of the exhibition to test them on their newly received knowledge.
Having a famous TV presenter talk visitors through the stories and facts behind an exhibition offers an engaging and interactive experience. However, there is an argument that such apps interfere with the visitors experience, in a recent debate around the pros and cons of the Kew Botanical Gardens app Tristan Gooley (author of Natural Navigator), argues that such apps mean that visitors end up looking at their phones walking around the exhibition rather than the actual content of the exhibition. The apps therefore act as a barrier between the visitor and their direct engagement with the exhibition. On the flip side, it could be claimed that by offering a more interactive experience the visitor is more invested in learning about the objects in the exhibition.
The Dali Museum Goodpack (priced at $0.99) let users create Dali inspired surrealism photos by adding surrealist overlays onto photos. All proceeds of sales of the app were donated to the Dali Museum.
The museum then ran a competition in which users of the app could send in their surreal photos, the best images- as judged by the famous Director John Waters- were projected on to the museum's new building. The app was a success, with over 30,000 downloads within 4 weeks - the museum had cleverly partnered with a well established and popular app to raise awareness and drive visitors to the gallery.
3) The Museum of London launched a great app, StreetMuseum, in 2010 to promote their new exhibition. The app let users explore London's historic scenes and occasions via their phones. Users could point their phones to present day scenes in London and using augmented reality technology, were presented with historic images of London, shedding light on past scenes and events.
At the end of last year, the Museum launched a second app, Dickens' Dark London, to promote their Dickens and London exhibition. Users are guided through Charles Dickens' literary take on London via an interactive graphic novel. The content is derived from Dickens' short stories and was released on a monthly basis throughout the exhibition. All editions were pulled together on an 1862 map of London.
Both of the apps' concepts centre around bringing the museum to the street. Users can enjoy the knowledge, stories and understanding we derive from exhibitions, but within a totally different context. They aim to combine historical and city tours with the museum experience.
4) QR Codes
QR codes have been utilised in a number of galleries and exhibitions, here are a couple of examples.
Mashable highlighted an example from Portugal, the gallery Centro Des Artes implemented QR codes across the Portugese artist Nuno Serrao’s exhibition. Visitors download an app that activates the QR codes and plays music that the visitors can listen to whilst walking round the exhibition through headphones. The artist aimed to ‘transport visitors to a state that gives them a different interpretation of the 16 photographs at the exhibit.’