There’s an app for that

Farewell, static didactic panel, hello personalized tech-based museum experience. 

Museums are far from dinosaurs when it comes to integrating technology into the user experience.

In fact, this millennial blogger can remember the awe of interactive, light-up exhibitions from her young elementary school field trip days, more than 25 years ago.

But for many years, these features were often relegated to separate “museum education” rooms instead of integrated into the galleries, were limited to one or two pieces (instead of the entire visitor experience), or were rampant in science and natural history museums but missing from more formal arts institutions.  

Times they are a changin’

Not anymore. Thanks to some intrepid and visionary arts leaders (and some generous funders) art museums are pioneering some new apps that help visitors dig a little deeper in real time.

"Ask" is one of our favorites.

Hailing from the Brooklyn Museum, Ask is an app that tackles the entire visitor experience. Once on-site visitors have downloaded the app they can interact with the museum’s audience engagement staff in real time—whether it’s asking questions about specific objects or getting directions to other areas of interest. 

Sure, but can’t you do that with a live docent?

The beauty of Ask is its anonymity (i.e., the staff aren't shown any information about the user) so self-conscious visitors no longer have to feel silly, or naïve for asking questions about the artwork. Instead, they can pose their questions without embarrassment.  


It’s working. “Visitors reported that they looked more closely at art in the galleries (rather than at their phones).” And they’re having more interactive, self-empowered experiences. Sounds like a win. (Source)