Nowadays technology in museums is a given. From the smallest to the largest institution, everybody tries to connect with visitors though a tablet, a video, a touch screen, audio, an app, 3D, etc. I've seen many, many, many different devices. But technology doesn't necessarily mean better and not every museum has the money to buy the new IT cool gadget. So in this post I'll talk about three technological ideas that I consider brilliant and about my personal experience of having the idea of a project for an exhibition at MOFAD (Museum of Food and Drink), about Chinese American Cuisine.
My first good experience was using the Philadelphia Art Museum app for families: "A is for Art". As you can see in the video, it is kind of a scavenger hunt. However, this app doesn't just give you the usual information any technology device or app does, it also makes you think and actively participate. It has open-ended questions and invites you to participate in different activities like posing as a Degas Ballerina or guessing the instruments in Picasso's "Three Musicians" (check video). The best part of this app is that it encourages you to interact with other visitors, which addresses the issue of visitors being isolated by the use of technological guides..
For quite some time I had been hearing about a museum that had this brilliant pen, a magical pen that allowed you to save favourite objects, design in touch screens and see everything you did at the museum after your visit. This story sounds like a fairytale, but I am glad to tell you it does exist! "The Pen" at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York invites visitors to engage with works in the museum in a different way.
In my experience, using the pen's innovative technology didn't just help me understand the museum in a better way and save information about my favourite things, it made me experience it: I was able to become a designer; I learned about design by designing myself; I created my own collection of furniture and I designed my wallpaper.
Finally, the last of my top 3 technological museum experiences was at the Brooklyn Museum. Sometimes the simplest things are the best ones. Their app ask BKM is a chat where you can talk with a museum professional/art historian and ask questions throughout your museum visit. As they explained it to me "it is like having an art historian in your pocket". How amazing is that! I really liked that there was another person involved and that he/she would not just give me information, but also recommend other pieces I would like according to my interests.
These examples of technology in museums are great, but not everybody has the budget, the knowledge or the experience to develop similar projects. For my last job I had to create a lesson plan for high school students. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about teenagers is video games, however I didn't have the money to develop anything. So instead I though and asked young people what was about video games and technology that teenagers liked. The answer: decision making and autonomy. So I created a self guided immersive tour where students will personify a historical character and solve problems similar to what really happened by studying the exhibition. Think Zork meets "Choose your own adventure" book on a paper printout booklet. I am still developing the idea and I think it could be adapted to different mediums (including the use of technology) and historical events.
Check the lesson plan's draft here and
comment as much as you want.
Now just for the fun of it, let's go back to the future and imagine what do you think would be the museum technology that you would like to exist