It’s has become almost a must have for a museum to have its own app in the attempt to improve visitor experience, but should the museum spend their limited budgets on expensive museum apps or should they invest in for example better lighting or the display of objects? It’s a difficult decision that’s for sure.
It’s true that with every passing day visitors are carrying around with them powerful computers and interactive devices in the form of smartphones, iPhone and tablets of sorts. As I write this my smartphone is probably connecting up with who knows who checking the weather etc.
Yes of course if you have a budget that allows you to provide high quality museum visitor experience in both reality and virtual form then there’s no question these devices can provide additional information which if used well, like any tool, will improve visitor experience.
But if you are not fortunate enough to have the budget for both surely it would be better to focus on displaying objects and making story lines come to life with interpretation of a high quality first?
For example on many occasions when designing a museum exhibition the first thing that a client will cut if there isn’t sufficient budget will be the lighting, do we need that many fittings that much track, never shall we drop the App!
As I have said previously looking at museum exhibitions which have been poorly presented, unfortunate interpretation with bad lighting, is a bit like drinking fine wine from a plastic beaker. The ingredients are the same but the enjoyment is vastly reduced. If the museum exhibition design and supporting information and lighting are of a very high quality you can add the icing to the cake by the introduction of museum Apps, certainly in my opinion not the other way round.
One to watch (or not)
When you go to a museum you are there to be immersed in the subject and be inspired to learn more. What is also interesting is to watch people interact with the Apps sometimes more amazed by the App than the object they are standing in front.
It will be interesting to see over the next five to ten years how many of these museum Apps are used and to what depth. Tracking will provide some interesting insights into their usage both whilst in museum exhibitions and once visitors have left and returned home. That’s if they ever make it to the museum, will the App reduce or increase visitor numbers? Virtual visits without the emotional connection of visiting the museum, no sense of scale or smell etc?