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SEPTEMBER 2016

alk into any museum in the world today and, no matter what’s on display, you’ll probably be greeted with the same sight: a sea of phones, the odd iPad and maybe even a selfie stick or two, all pointed at the exhibits. Looked at in one way, this behaviour seems slightly incongruous, given the setting. But, in another, it presents a great opportunity for reaching people on their most personal device. So how are museums and heritage sites – which are generally associated with tradition and the past – making the most of this thoroughly modern behaviour? “One of the discussions that does go on all the time at the upper levels in any institution is the degree to which a museum should use or depend on technology,” says Georgia Krantz, art history professor at NYU, who has also worked on education at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum. “There is this idea – which is partly old-fashioned but partly important and correct – that these are incredible

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ANALYSIS

works of art, and if people aren’t looking at them, then what is a museum for? If people are taking selfies in front of Van Gogh, is it taking away from the attention to the actual work of art?” It’s understandable that museums would be concerned about competing for visitors’ attention in their own spaces. In a field where, as Krantz admits, “a lot of the upperlevel people are a little bit older” – and the traditional visitor demographic skews in a similar direction – this can lead to some resistance to adopting mobile technology. “There’s often a mentality of ‘let the objects speak for themselves’,” says Elizabeth Ward, operations manager at London’s Benjamin Franklin House. “There’s been a real turning point, though, and it’s easy to see why, when you’re competing with all of the different forms of entertainment available to people today. As a result, museums all over the world are embracing technology and exploring new ways to deliver an interactive experience and access to digital content through apps, social media and digital learning.”

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Mobile Marketing September 2016  

The September 2016 print edition of Mobile Marketing

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