Museums have been cultural destinations within their communities for centuries. Not only do they provide amazing art, but are places for community interaction. Museums are looking to use interpretive technologies to enhance visitor experience (Hawkey, 2004). Interpretive technology is any technology that helps improve the visitors interaction with the art in the museum. Popular interpretive technologies include iPads, smartphones, and other similar mobile technologies. The Worcester Art Museum (WAM) is looking for ways to improve the visitor experience with the development of interpretive technology (Forgeng J., February 2, 2018, Personal Communication). The project achieved this by following the Mission and Objectives.This project was designed to assist the WAM in improving the visitor interaction with exhibits through the implementation of interpretive technology. To achieve the desired visitor experience the team used the following process:
- Document existing interpretive technologies in the WAM and other museums.
- Brainstorm interpretive technology ideas with the group, sponsor, and other WAM staff
- Assess the insights of WAM curators and other staff to determine how they use interpretive technology, and determine what the technical abilities of the WAM.
- Determine interpretive technology ideas and suggestions for the WAM.
- Decide interpretive technology for the WAM.
- Prototype decided interpretive technology and test with WAM staff and peers.
- Implement decided interpretive technology at the WAM.
The main project outcome was the new WAM Mobile Website (Figure 1). Other deliverables that supported the website were HTML Generating Excel Sheets, How-To Guides, and the WAM Mobile Website Promotional Video. The WAM Mobile Website had three main features:
- Exhibit Viewer
- Audio Tours
- Interactive Map
Figure 1: WAM Mobile Website
The Exhibits page in the website lists all the permanent exhibits in the museum as well as other sections of the building including the library and café. The Audio Tours page on the website takes all of the current audio tours found on the WAM’s existing mp3 players and makes them accessible to the user on their mobile device. Since the audio tours are labeled by number, the user can scroll through and search for the audio they want to listen to. The Interactive Map page gives the user the ability to plan out and personalize their visit to the museum. The map can allow visitors to guide themselves around the museum while inside. Each of the floors can be viewed by pressing a tab with the corresponding name.
The purpose of the HTML Generating Excel Workbook is to allow WAM curators and other staff who may have little to no knowledge about HTML to be able to edit and add information to the website. The Excel Workbook is laid out with an input and output sheet. The staff member will input the data they want added to the website on the input sheet and from the output sheet they will copy and paste the HTML code to the HTML file corresponding to the page they want to change. This easy update method will help keep the website sustainable. Three How-To guides were also created to cater to the sustainability strategy of the mobile website:
- HTML List of Exhibits Guide
- HTML Audio Tours Guide
- iMazing iPad Guide
A humorous promotional video for the mobile website was also created, the purpose of which is to connect especially with high school, college students, and anyone app-inclined in the Worcester area to influence them to visit the museum, and to use the mobile website. The video also shows off the features of the mobile website and how it is navigated. The video will be distributed on the Worcester Art Museum’s website as well as on the project website which can be found on the title page of this report.
Beyond creating the new WAM Mobile Website we left recommendations for its further development including adding new features to the mobile website, further development of current features and improving the sustainability of the mobile website.