The Museum Visitor of 2017: The Impact of the Internet Age on Labels, Exhibit Design and Digital Media Dana Allen-Greil New Media Project Manager Smithsonian National Museum of American History Cia Romano Founder and Senior Usability Researcher Interface Guru ® Dik Daso, PhD Curator of Modern Military Aircraft Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Session Chair: Victoria Portway Chair, Interactive Media and Electronic Outreach Smithsonian National Air and S pace M useum Prepared for Smithsonian’s Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums Washington, DC 2008
Is the museum visit being rendered obsolete by technology? Source: Michael Mouw and Daniel Spock, “Immersive Media: Creating Theatrical Storytelling Experiences,” in The Digital Museum: A Think Guide , 2007. Photo: National Museum of American History, America on the Move .
“ People continue to find value in traveling to the actual museum … When it comes to new media, museums will be most effective when they use electronic technology in ways that accentuate their unique role as three-dimensional, geographically located places that bring together real people and real things .”
Museums as trusted sources in the Internet age Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), InterConnections: A National Study of Users and Potential Users of Online Information . 2008.
Public libraries and museums are thriving in the Internet Age as trusted providers of information to people of all ages.
The Internet is not replacing in-person visits to libraries and museums and may actually increase them .
Museums, libraries, and the Internet serve to complement each other .
Online collections Source: Paul F. Marty, "Museum Websites and Museum Visitors: Before and After the Museum Visit.“ 2007. Photo (Top): Curtiss JN-4D Jenny, Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum.
“ If visitors can access our digital collections using the Internet, will they still come to the museum in person ?”
“ If people can look at pictures of beaches online, will they still vacation in Florida ?”
Physical and virtual visits complement each other Chart: The number of remote online visits is positively correlated with the number of in-person visits to museums and public libraries. (2007)
A 2005 study found that: 70% of museum visitors specifically look for online information prior to a museum visit
57% say the information they found online increased their desire to visit the museum in person.
Online visitors use museum Web sites to:
plan visits to physical museums
learn more about museums after a visit
Source: Paul F. Marty, "Museum Websites and Museum Visitors: Before and After the Museum Visit.“ 2007. Chart: Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), InterConnections: A National Study of Users and Potential Users of Online Information . 2008.
U.S. generations in 2017 18-36 Generation Y/ Millennials , a cohort even larger than the Baby Boomers (80 million) 1981-2000 17 and under Generation Z 2000+ 72-97 Matures (~52 million) 1920-1945 In 2017 will be… Generation Born 1965-1980 1946-1964 37-52 Generation X , about half the size of the Baby Boomers (~46-50 million) 53-71 Baby Boomers (76 million, nearly 1/3 of adult population today)
In 2011, Baby Boomers will begin to reach traditional retirement age (65). However, more people over 65 are working longer.
In 2006, nearly 30% of Americans ages 65 to 69 belonged to the workforce (up from 18% in 1985).
Source: Craig Copeland, “Labor-Force Participation: The Population Age 55 or Older,” EBRI Notes, no. 6 (Employee Benefit Research Institute, June 2007): 1–8.
Baby Boomer strategy: Museums as brain health experiences Sources: 2030 Vision: Anticipating the Needs and Expectations of Museum Visitors of the Future, Smithsonian Office of Policy and Analysis, 2007. and “Personal Trainer for the Brain,” March 14, 2008. Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.
“ The generation that started the fitness craze and popularized nutrition is now turning to brain-healthy foods and brain workouts to retain their cognitive edge and stave off memory loss or dementia.”
“ A brain healthy day at the museum could include a brain muscle workout from stimulating exhibitions and interactives …”
One out of every five adults (50 million), has a disability or impairment that causes limitations in activities. This is a large and diverse group of people.
Socioeconomic trends such as aging and other factors (e.g., rising obesity) have contributed to the growth of a disabled population in the U.S.
“ Museums can expect a higher percentage of older visitors who will have physical accessibility needs in getting through exhibits , reading information , and manually operating interactives .”
Sources: 2030 Vision: Anticipating the Needs and Expectations of Museum Visitors of the Future, Smithsonian Office of Policy and Analysis, 2007. Photo: Administration on Aging; NHIS-D, 1994-95. CAM (California Association of Museums) News, January 2008. National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey. Source: “Change in Chronic Disability from 1982 to 2004/2005,” PNAS 103, no. 28 (2006).
Technology and people with disabilities Source: "National Council on Disability Explores Emerging Technology Trends and Provides Strategies for Change," December 27, 2006.
Reported Disability Increases with Age
“ The more reliant society becomes on technology to perform fundamental aspects of every-day living, how we work, communicate, learn, shop, and interact with our environment, the more imperative it is that people with disabilities have access to that same technology , and the more costly will be the consequences of failure to ensure access.” -John R. Vaughn, National Council on Disabilities chairperson
Goal: Universal design Source: United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Photo: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
"Universal design" means the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.
"Universal design" shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of persons with disabilities where this is needed.
Why universal design guidelines? Sources: (1 &2) Allen-Greil, Dana. Survey Report: “Guidelines for Designing Computer-Based Interactives in Museums,” 2007.(3) “Learning for Everyone: Creating Making Models Using Universal Design,” Christine Reich, Museum of Science.
“ [Guidelines do] put constraints on design, but universal usability is ultimately beneficial to all.”
“ Guidelines should aim to both set standards for accessibility, and inspire creativity in curators, developers, and media designers.”
“ Early implementation demonstrated that considering the needs of visitors with disabilities when designing an exhibition created a better experience for everyone .”
State of guidelines in museums Source: Allen-Greil, Dana. Survey Report: “Guidelines for Designing Computer-Based Interactives in Museums,” 2007 Photo: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, America on the Move exhibition..
In a 2007 survey, 90% of respondents reported computer-based interactives in 1 or more of their exhibitions.
Yet, only 10% of museum practitioners have implemented guidelines for computer-based interactives. A slightly more promising 17% of exhibition or multimedia designers that serve cultural institutions reported having adopted such guidelines.
Concerns about implementing guidelines Source: Allen-Greil, Dana. Survey Report: “Guidelines for Designing Computer-Based Interactives in Museums,” 2007.
Digital Challenge 1: Increasing complexity Source: "National Council on Disability Explores Emerging Technology Trends and Provides Strategies for Change," December 27, 2006. Photo: (left) Philips 1500 VCR; (right) Philips DVD Remote.
Devices will continue to get more complex to operate before they get simpler. This is already a problem for mainstream users, but even more of a problem for people with cognitive disabilities and people who have cognitive decline due to aging.
Digital Challenge 2: Digital controls and disabilities Source: "National Council on Disability Explores Emerging Technology Trends and Provides Strategies for Change," December 27, 2006. Photos: (Top) Microsoft Surface; (Bottom) Apple iPhone
Increased use of digital controls (e.g., push buttons used in combination with displays, touch screens , etc.) is creating problems for people with blindness, cognitive, and other disabilities.
Digital Challenge 3: Miniaturization Source: "National Council on Disability Explores Emerging Technology Trends and Provides Strategies for Change," December 27, 2006. Photo: (left) Dr. Martin Cooper, father of the mobile phone (fcc.gov); (right) “Zoolander” (2001).
The shrinking size of products is creating problems for people with physical and visual disabilities.
Digital Challenge 4: Automation Source: "National Council on Disability Explores Emerging Technology Trends and Provides Strategies for Change," December 27, 2006. Photos: (left) Northwestern Airlines Self-Service Check-in; (right) Redbox DVD rental.
Increasing use of automated self-service devices , especially in unattended locations, is posing problems for some, and absolute barriers for others.
Digital Challenge 5: Rapid advance of technology outpacing usability Source: "National Council on Disability Explores Emerging Technology Trends and Provides Strategies for Change," December 27, 2006.
The incorporation of new technologies into products is causing products to advance beyond current accessibility techniques and strategies .
The rapid churn of mainstream technologies, that is, the rapid replacement of one product by another, is so fast that neither assistive technology nor technology-specific accessibility standards are keeping pace .
Digital Challenge 6: Handheld devices Source: "Museums in Transition: Emerging Technologies as Tools for Free-Choice Learning." Science Museum of Virginia and Gyroscope Inc., November 2006. Photo: SIguide.
Handheld devices have their own unique challenges.
Developing content for devices that quickly go out of date
Getting visitors accustomed to using a new and unfamiliar technology
Can interfere with use of exhibitions
Good practices towards universal design Source: “Learning for Everyone: Creating Making Models Using Universal Design,” Christine Reich, Museum of Science
Utilize ADA guidelines and standards as a starting point
Brainstorm ideas for multi-sensory learning experiences
Pay attention to both access to the experience and access to learning
Involve people with disabilities as consultants, advisors, and visitors in formative and summative evaluation
Shifting away from traditional family structure Sources: Census 2000 analyzed by the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN). U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation.
Second Life: A “proof of concept” for immersive environments outside of games
Museums are experimenting with “virtual visits” - SL lets people do things they can’t do in real life (like fly around a rocket park)
Creates anticipation for a real-life visit
Not just for fun: Corporations such as IBM are using it to model business software
The museum visitor of 2017: Current implementations are creating the future Right, user “flying” in International Spaceflight Museum, Second Life; over 5 million users; 30-50,000 online at any given time
Interpretation delivered as an interpersonal experience through use of high-def displays initiated by touchscreens
The museum visitor of 2017: Current implementations are creating the future Right, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey CA US. Visitors selecting items on a touchscreen “menu” learn about the “real cost” on oceans from a virtual “cook,” “waitress,” and “interpretive staffer” presented full-size on high-def screens
Technology will not replace iconic artifacts -- instead, it will enhance them and give them context.
As digital experience becomes more common, authenticity will become even more highly prized
Until telepresence becomes a reality, there is no such thing as “showing too much” of the museum. Our research shows that visitors are even likelier to plan a visit if they can see what it will be like.
Nothing replaces the direct experience of an icon. Nothing.
The museum visitor of 2017: Address cultural concerns about technology
The museum visitor of 2017: The panel This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.