Using Interactive Technology To Create Future Proof Museums

Discover why compelling, engaging experiences using interactive technology are key to creating future proof museums.

Museums and cultural venues play a crucial role preserving a society’s heritage and sense of identity. At the same time, they function as educational spaces that allow visitors to explore different aspects of history and society at their own pace. But since interactive technology has revolutionised the way we think about many aspects of our lives, it seems fair to wonder whether new technologies can also be applied to the museums and heritage industry. In this post, we take a look at how different types of interactive technology can help create future proof museums that attract visitors and provide engaging experiences.

Why Museums Need To Future Proof Themselves

According to recent reports, museum visitor numbers seem to be plummeting at the global level. In London (where some of the world’s finest museums are located), museum attendance has dropped by over 20 million over a period of only three years, and that is despite several efforts to attract visitors by organising social events, offering free entry, and extending opening hours.

Although the exact reasons for this decline in visitor numbers are unclear, it is not far-fetched to think that some museums have fallen behind the expectations of visitors and have failed to catch up with large social and demographic changes. For example, some studies have shown that the decline in visitors is especially significant among young people, which suggests that museums and cultural venues need to widen their appeal by looking at alternative ways of engaging with the public.

How To Use Interactive Technology To Create Future Proof Museums

When it comes to generating engagement with an audience, one must necessarily turn to interactive technology, which has proven very effective attracting visitors of all ages to cultural institutions all over the world. For example, faced with a similar decline in visitor numbers, museum executives at the MOMA decided to incorporate the predominant culture of interaction we now live in into the museum experience. According to the museum’s chief digital officer, future proof museums start by understanding that competitors are no longer other museums, but rather apps and online platforms like video streaming and social networks.

Clearly, there is something to be learned from how these platforms engage with their audience by focusing on creating two-way interactions and putting the visitor experience at the centre stage. We’ll now look at some examples of how some of the world’s top museums and cultural venues are incorporating interactive technology into their operations.

Types Of Interactive Museum Technology

There are many ways in which museums and cultural venues can use interactive technology to make themselves future-proof, but they can be grouped in six types of technology.

  • Museum apps: Mobile apps have become an integral part of our everyday lives, and they also have applications in the leisure and entertainment arenas. In view of this, it’s hardly surprising that leading cultural institutions like Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery have developed their own apps to make artworks more accessible and foster a sense of curiosity in every visitor. Using these apps, visitors can create collages, share their discoveries in social networks, and display their favourite works in their own homes using augmented reality technology.
  • Interactive audio guides: The Louvre Museum has set a good example of how a traditional museum tool like an audio guide can be given a more engaging touch via interactive technology. The museum offers audio guides on a Nintendo DS device, whose dual screen lends itself beautifully to displaying interactive maps. Adding to that is GPS technology, which makes wayfinding smooth, and delivers a large amount of visual content -including 3D images- to complement the auditory experience.
  • Video walls / Interactive walls have been successfully used to challenge the passive role of museum goers and transform it into a hands-on experience. At the Cleveland Museum of Art, a large video wall displays a curated selection of the museum’s exhibits in tile format. The focal point is not display, but discovery, since visitors can connect their mobile devices to the wall via Bluetooth, download and save their favourites, and view tours and collections created by previous visitors.
  • Augmented & virtual reality are also being used by world-class museums to help visitors interact with exhibits using their mobile phones. At the Detroit Institute of Arts, AR apps get visitors involved with the artworks by getting them to solve puzzles or find specific details within an art piece.
  • Self-service technology, like kiosks, is perfectly suited to museums as it gives visitors an opportunity to create their own experience while at the venue. Self-service kiosks can be used for multiple purposes, from offering information to wayfinding, and including giving feedback, signing up for museum memberships, making donations, printing entrance tickets, etc. Penn State Museum is a good example of how interactive kiosks can be used to boost engagement, combining touchscreen kiosks with digital signage with a focus on helping visitors create a personalised experience.
  • Hologram technology: Due to its 3D nature, this technology is both interactive and immersive and can help create future proof museums by introducing a strong experiential element. Holographic projections can tell a story about artifacts or works of art and bring them to life through engaging animations, therefore becoming crucial digital storytelling tools that help create rewarding and memorable experiences.

As a museum director or executive, you now have a great opportunity to entertain and educate the public using the tools that your audience prefers. Interactive technologies can help successfully engage with museum goers and keep visitors returning on a regular basis. At LamasaTech we specialise in designing and installing engaging interactive technology solutions for museums and cultural venues. Get in touch to find out how we can help you upgrade the visitor experience and create future proof museums that engage their audience.

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