Technology & the Museum Visitor Experience

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Presented at 2008 AAM Webinar

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Technology & the Museum Visitor Experience

  1. 1. AAM Webinar: Technology & the Museum Visitor Experience Peter Samis, Assoc. Curator of Interpretation San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Scott Sayre, Principal, Sandbox Studios Robin Dowden, Director, New Media Initiatives, Walker Art Center Michael Mouw, Multimedia Director, Minnesota Historical Society Dan Spock, Director, History Center Museum, Minnesota Historical Society Jonathan Finkelstein, LearningTimes.org March 11, 2008
  2. 2. Learning Objectives • Situate their museum on the Context Continuum • Understand the range of technology tools at their disposal for improving visitor experience • Understand approaches to optimizing each tool as an interpretive platform • Recognize infrastructural implications to these solutions • Better understand benefits, challenges, and issues that arise in the technology and interpretation planning process After participating in this Webinar, attendees will be better able to:
  3. 3. Museums! Even if they look like this on the outside...
  4. 4. ...they look like this on the inside.
  5. 5. …and this.
  6. 6. Modern art—like all the objects we exhibit — exists in a framework of meanings. • Physical aspects • Process of its making • Relationships (to its maker, to ideas, to other works) • Documents (journals, letters, sketches) • Media • Methods of approach and understanding
  7. 7. Of these, art museums typically strip away all but one or two. • Process of its making • Relationships (to its maker, its time) • Documents • Media • Methods of approach and understanding • Physical aspects
  8. 8. Experts………………Novices
  9. 9. Some objects have more “Visual Velcro” than others. Photo: Kai Yamada
  10. 10. For those that don’t, we are left to restore the context… so something sticks with our visitors! Photos: Ashley Lovell and BiepMiep
  11. 11. Ways to restore context Scott Sayre Principal, Sandbox Studios Audio Tours in Transition: Cell phones
  12. 12. Ways to restore context Robin Dowden Director, New Media Initiatives, Walker Art Center Audio Tours in Transition: Multimedia Tours
  13. 13. Moving along The Context Continuum…
  14. 14. Jonathan: Please Insert POD video 1 at this point.
  15. 15. Walltext or Smart Table? • Invisible author • Single “Museum Voice” • Generalizations without visual anchors • Detached tone • Failure to connect • Person to person • Multiple voices • No generalization without an Illustration • Allows for humor, warmth & passion • Invites choice & visitor participation
  16. 16. Learning Lounge: dedicated gallery • Artist video on plasma display • FAQ wall graphics w/ images • Educational website on kiosks • Related books and catalogs
  17. 17. Answer the Big Questions • Why would anyone make this? • What’s it doing in this big important building? • What does it have to do with the other works around it? • What would I be doing if I made this?
  18. 18. Visitors still prefer the analog: INTERPRETIVE OFFERINGS (COLLAPSED) USED BY RESPONDENTS (IN PERCENT) USED INTERPRETIVE OFFERINGS (n = 251) % Exhibition introduction wall text 78 Exhibition brochure 55 Learning Lounge (one or more offerings) 51 Audio tour (audio guide headset, cell phone, or podcast) 47 Drawing Restraint 9 film 17 Exhibition Web site 15 SFMOMA docent-led public tour 2 Use of Matthew Barney offerings by respondents: —Statistics courtesy Randi Korn & Associates
  19. 19. But on the other hand: TABLE 43 RATINGS OF INTERPRETIVE OFFERINGS RATING 7-POINT RATING SCALE: DID NOT HELP ME APPRECIATE BARNEY’S ART (1) / HELPED ME APPRECIATE BARNEY’S ART (7) n MEAN ± Cell phone audio tour 46 6.2 1.10 Podcast audio tour 18 6.2 0.81 Antenna audio guide headset tour 50 5.6 1.44 Learning Lounge 95 5.5 1.45 Exhibition brochure 131 5.2 1.53 Exhibition Web site 31 5.2 1.37 Drawing Restraint 9 film 40 5.1 1.92 Exhibition introduction wall text 182 4.7 1.65 What helped make meaning? —Statistics courtesy Randi Korn & Associates
  20. 20. Here are the stats : FIGURE 7 OVERALL RATING OF BARNEY EXHIBITION BY TOTAL NUMBER OF INTERPRETIVE OFFERINGS USED IN THE EXHIBITION AND BY FAMILIARITY WITH BARNEY’S ART TOTAL NUMBER OF INTERPRETIVE OFFERINGS USED IN THE EXHIBITION NO OFFERINGS ( n = 1 6 ) 1 – 2 OFFERINGS ( n = 7 2 ) 3 - 4 OFFERINGS ( n = 8 8 ) 5+ OFFERINGS ( n = 6 2 ) MEANS MEANS MEANS MEANS 7_ _ 6 .1 _ 5 .9 6_ _ 5 .6 _ 5 .7 n 5.6 S _5.4 C A n 4.8 L 5_ _4.6 E n 4.3 _4.04_ n 3.3 MEAN SCORES: _FamiliarwithBarney’s Art 3_ _2.6 _ Unfamiliar with Barney’s Art n Combined 2_ 1_ 7-POINT RATINGSCALE:1 = UNFAVORABLE/ 7 =VERYFAVORABLE Num berofofferings:F=5.671;p=.001 Familiaritywith Barney’s Art:F=36.578;p=.000 Num berofofferings* FamiliaritywithBarney’s ArtF=2.48;p=.062 Model:F=12.500;p=.000R2 =.276 (Statistics courtesy Randi Korn & Associates)
  21. 21. What did we learn? What did visitors prefer? The more interpretive resources visitors used,the more they appreciated the art— regardless of whether they had any prior familiarity with Barney and his work.
  22. 22. Other variants on embedded social spaces… Robin Dowden Director, New Media Initiatives, Walker Art Center
  23. 23. History and science museums are less restrictive… In other museums, educational technologies can assume a more central role.
  24. 24. Ways to restore context Michael Mouw Multimedia Director, Minnesota Historical Society Dan Spock Director, History Center Museum, Minnesota Historical Society Object Theater & Participatory Social Learning
  25. 25. Questions?
  26. 26. Analog: • Gallery level wall texts written to engage • Extended object labels focused on each work • Comfortable seating to encourage lingering & looking • Gallery attendants who dialogue Interpretive Toolset Digital: • Mobile interpretive devices: audio for now, multimedia on the way • Smart Tables in the galleries • Learning Lounges w/ video, kiosks, wall graphics… • Information on demand3

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