Museums take form in a number of different ways. Traditional art museums, like the Lourve in Paris, where people travel from all over the world to see masterpieces from throughout the ages; to the more interactive science museums that are found in almost every city. But with the ability to see the Mona Lisa by simply using google or having the interactive elements of a science museum on our smartphones, how will the museums of the future continue to be relevant and engaging in our rapidly changing world? And is it all about flashy displays and touch screens? How can art and history museums showing pieces both ancient and modern, leverage technology to create amazing experiences for their patrons?
The challenge for museums is keeping the content and technology continually up to date and relevant to their patrons. Whether it is changing the art hanging on a gallery’s walls or moving to interactive displays at a science museum. We live in a world where we have content that is relevant, and educational on demand. From the large screen, televisions and computers, or the small screen, tablets and smartphones; access to great content is not a challenge for people today. Do museums need to fight against this new world or simply embrace it and use it to their advantage?
A User Focus
Museums are unique in that they are cultural centers for our cities, where people engage with both local and international ideas and cultures from the past, present, and future. This can drive community engagement, by not just allowing people dictate the content, but by letting the content influence the community to action. In the article Future of Museums: Social Impact+UX+Phygital, authors Clare Brown & Alin Tomcod believe that, “Emotion-driven museum experiences will not merely present facts but will provide opportunities and stimulate visitors to engage proactively in the world around them.” (1) By leveraging technology focused on how the user interacts with the exhibit museums can not only create something entertaining, but can inspire creativity, engagement, and even social change. Creating exhibits that are interactive and quickly updatable will engage our social media saturated world, allowing visitors to engage with the exhibits in new ways, as well as creating engagement with the museum, the city, and the world at large. Focusing on the visitor to deliver a great experience and will help shape the future of museums.
We live in world where screens are getting thinner and at the same time larger, and everything we own is somehow becoming “smart”; so what are the digital trends that museums can capitalize on? The rising popularity of Virtual Reality (VR) appears to have some potential staying power this time around. More affordable tech and the ability to create VR content easier than ever, VR could be a way to create unique experiences for visitors or even those who can’t make it to the physical museum. The world’s largest museum, the Smithsonian, have been creating digital exhibits of some of their pieces. Former Secretary of the Smithsonian G. Wayne Clough said in an interview, “you can’t be the best at your business if you walk away from anything this big. So if the Smithsonian wants to be a leader in museums, or astronomy, or whatever, it has to be a leader in the digital world.” (2) To continue to deliver an immersive experience to visitors wearable devices and ibeacon technology are beginning help to deliver personal touches, and unique interactions to visitors. Technology has already changed our museum experiences, but more user focused technology that aids the museum in telling a story will only help to build better museums in the future.
The Future of Museums is bright with the growth of user experience (UX) principles and professionals being created. The digital world we now live in continues to grow and expand, so it is no longer about the type of technology being used, but about how people interact with it. Learn about how Forest Giant is helping to create truly custom interactive experiences HERE.