How to Create Digital Visitor Experiences with Interactive Media for Museums
As former Director of London’s British Museum, Sir David M. Wilson once said, “museums are about the material they contain. The ﬁrst duty of the museum curator is to look after that material. His second duty is to make that material available to whoever wants to see it.”1 Today, curators must do even more by creating more accessible, more enjoyable exhibits. Using interactive media to create truly engaging digital visitor experiences is a great way to achieve this.
When we say digital visitor experiences, we mean a collection of technologies that serves to enhance the overall experience of the visitor, which in many cases has been shown to achieve just that. In a museum exhibit study, when costs were equal, 72% of visitors listened to audio tour content as opposed to 34% who preferred reading 2. In another study, over 33% of respondents stated it was either important or very important for a tour to be downloadable to their own mobile devices. This represents a significant change in the industry. Visitors today are younger, more modern, and rely heavily on technology to enhance their experience.
What’s more, visitors are more responsive to multisensory, interactive media, which enhance visitor learning and satisfaction levels 2. In fact, in an academic study, users of modern media such as audio guides and GPS guided tours were more satisfied, learned up to 40% more than non-users, and spent 32% longer at each point of interest 2. This translates to repeat visits and word of mouth communication; many more visitors in total.
The question then, is not should you make your exhibit more interactive, but how?
1. Know your audience.
Are your visitors individuals, couples, families? In which age group are they? The audience will influence the type of interactive media you offer. If your exhibit is for children, you might include a tilt-able touch table with educational games so that they can play together, whereas adults may prefer to experience media individually.
2. Design your content.
84% of visitors prefer bullet points to blocks of text but 68% still prefer full sentences. No one form of content will appeal to all visitors; signage should combine image rich content with informative text to have the greatest effect. Your digital visitor experience should not just add supplementary content. It should interconnect with your exhibits and other forms of media, creating an integrated feel that allows visitors to watch, read, and hear in different ways around the exact same subject. For example, augmented reality could even help visitors imagine the workshops of their favourite artists as they are viewing their favourite painting in a museum. Will your content be educational, entertaining, or navigational? Should your tone be amusing or serious? To shock and amaze your visitors, you could even use interactive media technology to trigger the roar of a lion, or the reanimation of a tyrannosaurus rex.
3. Choose your tools.
There are many app tools and technologies available to create a multi-sensory, interactive media approach that visitors will love. It’s often useful just to imagine how you would ideally like to present the material, and then work backwards thinking about the technology that could make it possible. MP3 audio guides and mobile apps are a great starting point, while augmented reality, 3D modelling, and even game development can further enhance the experience.
Think carefully about how you want to engage your visitors, and around what content.
Learn more about MyOrpheo’s custom interactive solutions to make any exhibit more enjoyable. We say let the interactivity begin!
1. Kotler, N. & Kotler, P. (2001). Can museums be all things to all people? Missions, goals, and marketing’s role. Museum Management and Curatorship. Vol. 18, pp. 271-287.
2. L.D.Wolf, Stricker, H.K. &Hagenloh, G. (2013). Interpretative media that attract park visitors and enhance their experiences: a comparison of modern and traditional tools using GPS tracking and GIS technology. Tourism Management Perspectives.