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After the heroism, collaboration: Organizational learning and the mobile space


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A presentation given with my colleague and co-author Stephanie Pau on April 16, 2009 at Museums & the Web in Indianapolis. It starts out with a report of inter-departmental collaboration around interpretation planning for exhibitions at SFMOMA and then focuses on mobile technologies, including the results of two evaluations indicating visitor preferences. Finally, we outline future directions for mobile multimedia development at SFMOMA.

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After the heroism, collaboration: Organizational learning and the mobile space

  1. 1. Peter Samis Associate Curator Interpretation Stephanie Pau Manager Interpretation San Francisco Museum of Modern Art After the heroism, collaboration : Organizational learning & the mobile space Museums & the Web 2009 • 16 April 2009
  2. 2. The Interpretive Goals Process <ul><li>A cross-departmental dialogue and interpretive brainstorm process involving: </li></ul><ul><li>Educators </li></ul><ul><li>Curators </li></ul><ul><li>Publications </li></ul><ul><li>Communications/Audience Strategy </li></ul>The Interpretive Goals Process: A collaboration
  3. 3. Regarding each upcoming show:
  4. 4. <ul><li>What is the rationale for the project? Why here, why now? </li></ul><ul><li>List 1-3 main visitor takeaways. </li></ul><ul><li>Who is the intended audience? Why? </li></ul><ul><li>What didactic elements are planned (wall texts, extended object labels, etc.)? </li></ul><ul><li>What other modes of interpretation, including multimedia, should we consider? </li></ul>Key Questions in the Interpretive Goals Process:
  5. 5. Assistant Registrar Linda Leckart on Jonathan Ive’s iPhone (communicated via a cell phone tour) Case Study 1: 246 and Counting: Recent Architecture + Design Acquisitions
  6. 6. Case Study 2: The Art of Participation 1950 to Now
  7. 7. John Cage, 4’33”, 1952 Case Study 2
  8. 8. Case Study 3: Frida Kahlo
  9. 9. Interpretive Menu: analog + digital mix <ul><li>Brochure in 2 languages </li></ul><ul><li>Wall texts in 2 languages </li></ul><ul><li>Handheld Antenna multimedia tour in 3 languages: English, Spanish & French </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Lounge: film, kiosk, books </li></ul><ul><li>Supplementary history galleries: Kahlo in SF, Kahlo’s Legacy </li></ul><ul><li>Videos in Koret Visitor Ed Center </li></ul><ul><li>Podcasts </li></ul>
  10. 13. 2 Evaluation Studies <ul><li>Visitor Experience & Interpretive Goals: Randi Korn & Associates </li></ul><ul><li>Visitor response to handheld multimedia guide (audio tour) Discovery Corporate Intelligence Group </li></ul>
  11. 14. Randi Korn Findings: Use of Offerings
  12. 17. What a visual interface brings to the party…
  13. 18. A way to point at and parse out the picture…
  14. 19. [3] [15]
  15. 20. Visitor feedback from Antenna’s comment book…
  16. 22. The stats, too, show this is a hit: 1 2 3
  17. 23. What about the cell phone idea?
  18. 24. Or the personal device download idea?
  19. 25. But then, who can blame them? <ul><li>Cell phone reception varies </li></ul><ul><li>The audio quality is often poor </li></ul><ul><li>Foreign visitors must pay outrageous international roaming charges </li></ul><ul><li>Holding a device to one’s ear is fatiguing </li></ul><ul><li>Podcasts require pre-visit planning ( Oops , I’m already here !) </li></ul><ul><li>Wi-fi networks are temperamental , especially in crowd situations </li></ul>
  20. 26. Until these obstacles are removed, pre-loaded devices —at a cost or for free— seem to correspond to the premium cultural experience museums are expected to provide .
  21. 27. Corroboration: Our 2 Case Studies 28 18 Stops on cell phone tour 22 706 Art of Participation 19 585 246 and Counting Incoming calls/day Incoming calls/month Exhibition
  22. 28. Was the fault in our promotion? <ul><li>No doubt in part… </li></ul>
  23. 29. But then there was evidence like this :
  24. 30. Meanwhile, the story online & at home was different. RSS feed: 18,613 mp3/m4a downloads or 194 downloads/day Live Flash Streaming: numbers unknown
  25. 31. So what information did on-site visitors not get? Hans Haacke, News, 1969/2008
  26. 32. Content allocated exclusively to cell phones via 246 Tour & AoP Tour These had been part of our “interpretive plan.” Artist invitation to participate & comment Behind the scenes insights on how a museum collects Supplementary info re: each piece & the conditions of its production Back-story on how a work was acquired Artist voices Artwork-specific interpretation
  27. 33. On the other hand, the purpose-built & delivered multimedia tour for Frida Kahlo actually had a Halo Effect :
  28. 34. 25% increase in satsifaction
  29. 37. Takeaways 1 <ul><li>They seem to desire a high fidelity, immersive experience (at least for special ticket blockbusters) </li></ul><ul><li>Parsing out audio through a touch-and-listen interface is a winner </li></ul>Visitors apparently are not as eager to use their own devices as museums might wish.
  30. 38. Takeaways 2 <ul><li>Universal Access: if a museum is going to delegate significant interpretive aspects to mobile devices, then those devices need to be as effortlessly available as artworks & wall texts </li></ul>
  31. 39. The Guggenheim, Whitney, and MoMA all offer (and promote) free audio tours of their Permanent Collection. <ul><li>Take-up rates range between 20-65% </li></ul><ul><li>(vs. a more typical 3%) </li></ul>“ Universal Access”
  32. 40. Takeaways 3 <ul><li>If we are to free ourselves from dependence on outside providers and empower ourselves to develop our own content… </li></ul>We need a flexible authoring and publishing platform for the mobile space.
  33. 41. <ul><li>Re-thinking the audio tour based on research to date </li></ul><ul><li>Touch-&-Listen </li></ul><ul><li>Concise & multi-layered </li></ul><ul><li>Artist Voices & Videos </li></ul><ul><li>1st delivery on iPod-Touch and iPhone </li></ul><ul><li>Working with NOUS-Guide to develop </li></ul>Developing a Mobile Multimedia Guide for the Permanent Collection
  34. 42. <ul><li>Need to promote permanent collection tours with a museum-wide strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Same goes for special exhibitions of lesser known artists </li></ul>Next Corollary
  35. 43. Content development & Production Of course, that doesn’t solve all our problems. In fact, And that’s a lot of collaboration. Staffing of Distribution Points Hardware Marketing & Promotion it’s the beginning of a whole new set !
  36. 44. Thank you.