Museums and Interactivity

I looked into and research museums and how some are integrating new technology to engage their visitors more.  I found they are realizing that they must pay attention to their visitors and are evaluating the effectiveness of their exhibitions both during and after installation.  Museums are looking at ways to engage a younger audience who are familiar with social media and the latest mobile technology; whilst not wanting them taking photographs of their exhibitions they do want to engage this age group are these are the visitors of the future.

Visiting museums and exhibitions are experiences; museums are now in a position more than ever before to incorporate technology to give the best possible visitor and learning experience and enjoyable visit.

One of the top museums for visitor interaction using new technology is The Cleveland Museum of Art.  They come across as a pioneer in integrating new technology into one of their new galleries ‘Gallery One where visitors can hire iPads to connect with exhibits in the gallery.

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The new exhibition Gallery One opened to the public in January 2013.  After extensive audience research and a major building and renovation project they reinstalled and reinterpreted their entire permanent collection in a new and renovated gallery space. The end result is a highly innovative and robust blend of art, technology, design, and a unique user experience.

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The gallery hosts a gigantic touch-sensitive screen where visitors can see thousands of objects from the museum’s permanent collection. The 40 foot long wall is large enough to allow dozens of people to simultaneously browse the reams of digital art. You can design a tour which you can download to your iPad (or one rented from the museum) and then explore these pieces individually.

Problems they faced: How do you let the content shine, so the technology isn’t the focus? How do you craft an interaction between bytes and spaces that feels fun?  Creating compelling experiences where the technology wasn’t center-stage meant crafting the content very carefully.  They believed and thought that sitting at a computer compared to leaning back and swiping at an iPad felt more like work while the latter more like play. They believed that if people didn’t find something fun they could easily walk away and ‘Nothing ages worse than the newest latest technology. The experiences that last always tell a deep story or let people tell a story’.