The future of museums and learning to love change


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Formerly of the Science Museum, Mia Ridge will use her knowledge of current trends in the museum and consumer digital environment to explore next steps and important priorities for the years ahead.

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  • Owen Stephens (@ostephens) live blogged my talk, his notes are at
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  • For those who don't know me, I'm Mia Ridge, as the programme says, formerly of the Science Museum and now a PhD student at Open University. I've been a cultural heritage technologist for over a decade, and have worked internationally as a programmer, analyst, researcher and consultant. Lately I've been working on crowdsourcing, particularly through games and in my PhD with specialist users to digitise and geolocate historical materials.Why Ganesh? He's the god of new beginnings and the removal of obstacles.Image: Ganesh at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
  • First of all, it's important to acknowledge that audience expectations are set by their experiences outside the museum - in school, visitor attractions, cinemas, online, at home. Facebook teaches them to tag images, Foursquare to mark their location, Twitter to find engaged communities. Every bit of social media teaches them to share and be sociable. Some of them may be carrying cameras, game consoles and phones that are more modern than anything you could install in gallery.Image source: HoriaVarlan
  • But it's not about competing with the changing technology and behaviours outside museums, it's about working with it. Designing an engaging visitor experience should be your starting point, then think creatively about how it could be enhanced with technology. And it's not all about technology - sometimes post-it notes are as good as an interactive kiosk. But that said, these are some digital trends I'm going to discuss…
  • Transmedia is a challenge to the primacy of exhibitions*, just as it's a challenge to the centrality of television to broadcasters. *Assuming you still believe that's the core museum experience for the majority…See for egs
  • Augmented reality layers can be triggered by location and orientation, as in this Wikitude example showing facts about a castle...
  • Or by location and markers such as QR codes… and in this case, the museum has taken artworks to where the people are - a music festival. Stedelijk Museum at Lowlands festivalSee for moreImages from
  • Nick Moyes, Terence Eden and Roger Bamkin
  • A bus stop in the CivicCenter/Tenderloin district in San Francisco
  • There are more experts outside the museum than within, and the general public is gifted with the ability to describe your collections in the ordinary language that will help make it discoverable and engaging.If you're not sure what's best, why not ask your visitors? Everyone wins.Transcriptions (Old Weather shipping logs, NYPL menus), image cropping (V&A), Map rectification (Map Warper, NYPL), Metadata (, metadata games), Audio-visual tagging (Waisda?)
  • 200 million people play casual games online. In 2010, UK research said 67% of the online audience (17 million people) play casual games on social networks, 20 million on mobile devices, 18 million on casual games portals. Games aren't new but they're powerful, and gamification is a buzzword to watch out for.Image source:starmud
  • Our audiences are (getting) used to being heard… are we used to listening? Technology is not a babysitter, if can't deliver expectations think carefully before creating them. Are you in a dialogue with audiences or are you just broadcasting at them?Image: spray paint, 'plant tree here'
  • Next big design trend that takes lessons from user experience design and applies them to every aspect of customer service. Definition: "the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service, in order to improve its quality, the interaction between service provider and customers and the customer's experience", source: Tate membership program; learn from other sectorsImage source: tobiastoft
  • And change has always been constant because the world we live in is always changing…Image source: Eire Sarah
  • So change is constant, how do you cope?Holistic strategies for public engagement as a basis for decision-making, that in turn determine your exhibition and online programmes… Work together across departments towards your museum's mission.Your content should be findable, engaging, linkable.Be authoritative - exchange links between peers to say your Matisse or Newton is the same as their Matisse or Newton. Help people discover more from your pages… Image by s.o.f.t.
  • A blog post is bite-sized, an exhibition microsite is not.'Snackable' is phrase of Hugh Wallace from National Museums Scotland….Image source: dhaun
  • Work out when and how to trust your staff to engage digitally as well as in person. Just as there are experts outside the museum, there are experts within the museum.Some aspects of museum IT are broken. Look to other sectors for models for agile, responsive technology.There are opportunities for museums to find a new role in public life but museums need to change to get there…
  • People want to love you, make it easy for them - they can bear witness to your value.It's easy to shut down when times are hard, but understand where risk is acceptable in your museum and find new ways to engage your audiences. How can you work to make it part of people's jobs to say yes? Be smart about resources, not dogmatic.
  • What behaviour do you reward in staff and audiences? What obstacles can you remove from their path?
  • It's too late for Keep Calm and Carry On - our motto now must be Get excited and make thingsImage and idea credit: Matt Jones,
  • The future of museums and learning to love change

    1. 1. The future of museums and learning to live with love change<br /><br />@mia_out<br />Mia Ridge, Cultural Heritage Technologist<br />
    2. 2. The world is changing…<br />Image: HoriaVarlan<br />
    3. 3. …but we're<br />Rich user experiences<br />Transmedia<br />The arrrrs (QR, AR)<br />Crowdsourcing<br />Games<br />Service design<br />
    4. 4. Transmedia<br />Content and experiences across platforms: in-gallery, on your website, on social media, in print, in games, in audio…<br />…and ideally audience participation changes things...<br />A challenge to the primacy of exhibitions<br />
    5. 5. Augmented reality<br />
    6. 6. Augmented reality + QR<br />
    7. 7. QR codes: Derby Museum<br />Adjusts to language of your phone to provide multilingual content e.g.<br />
    8. 8. Geo-located, mobile, now<br />They were here, then<br />
    9. 9. …or go low-tech<br />'Once upon a time...'<br />
    10. 10. Crowdsourcing and participation<br />Try transcriptions; image cropping; map rectification; metadata creation; experiential data… but show the impact<br />Museum 2.0: Guest Post: Using Visitor Participation to Improve Object Labels at the San Diego Natural History Museum <br />
    11. 11. Games<br />New audiences; new types of engagement<br />Location-based games (e.g. SVNGR)<br />Crowdsourcing games (e.g. metadata games)<br />Game-based learning (e.g. High Tea, Launchballetc)<br />Image by: starmud<br />
    12. 12. Our audiences are (getting) used to being heard…<br />
    13. 13. Service design<br />Consistent user experience across all platforms<br />Addresses every aspect of customer service<br />Requires holistic strategy, end to silos<br />Image by: tobiastoft<br />
    14. 14. Common threads?<br />Personal, mobile and on-demand<br />No such thing as an off-line experience anymore<br />New ways of telling stories<br />New ways of reaching audiences<br />New relationships with audiences<br />Require holistic strategy and design<br />Image by: Eire Sarah<br />
    15. 15. Future-proofing the museum<br />Image by s.o.f.t. <br />
    16. 16. Bite-size content<br />Fit into people's lives<br />Be where people hang out<br />Be shareable<br />Be 'snackable' - small curated collections of objects; images and video; blog posts; tweets; stories<br />Image by: dhaun<br />
    17. 17. Look outside<br />
    18. 18.
    19. 19. Many new beginnings<br /><ul><li>Start small, watch and learn; remove obstacles; repeat</li></li></ul><li>Thank you!<br />Mia Ridge, Cultural Heritage Technologist<br />@mia_out<br /><br />