is why there has been a big push for institutions to connect with diverse audiences and inspire all communities to get engaged.” “The whole concept of the museum for many people can be stuffy or boring, or just something for other people but not for them,” says Martijn Pronk, head of publications at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. “In theory, the museum has always been for everybody, but now in the digital age we can realise that ambition. We really are there for everybody. Everybody in the whole world can visit the museum online, can connect with the collection, can find out what it is that they are particularly interested in.” Mobile can also help museums address issues of accessibility, in the sense of making their spaces more user-friendly for visitors with disabilities, specifically
digitally in high-definition, and is planning to make its full 1.2m-strong collection available by 2018. The images have been placed in the public domain, meaning they can be used for personal or commercial use, and Rijksmuseum works with retail site Etsy to let people create their own souvenirs from the artworks. The museum has also launched Rijksstudio, where users can curate their own private collection. It’s intended to give the public a chance to create “a personal view of the museum”, according to Pronk.
“FOR US, THE IDEA IS TO WHET A POTENTIAL VISITOR’S APPETITE, RATHER THAN REPLACE THE NEED TO VISIT IN PERSON” ELIZABETH WARD, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HOUSE
those who are blind or deaf. When the Guggenheim launched its multimedia app in 2013, it put accessibility front and centre – literally, including it as an option on the main menu. The app included a verbal description tour – “describing works of art in a way that allows blind people to ‘see’ the work in their mind’s eye,” as Krantz explains – and American Sign Language videos that communicate the history of works with deaf visitors “to speak to people who are deaf about the works in their own language”.
Of these collections, 600,000 have been created by users, and the museum runs an annual design contest to encourage creative use of the platform. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of ambitious digital museum
projects out there, rivalling any brand vertical you care to name for innovation and willingness to experiment. Street Art Museum Amsterdam (SAMA), an outdoor gallery of graffiti artworks, founded in 2010, has teamed up with the city’s Reinwardt Academie in Amsterdam for a VR (virtual reality) experience launching at the start of next year. “VR gives us an opportunity to enhance static content and create a true 3D experience. Not only does VR allow us to ‘enter the artwork’, but it allows the user to see what may not necessarily exist in the physical space any more,” says SAMA’s Stolyarova. “Graffiti and street art are temporary, so we need to look outside of tradition and into the new realm of visualisation and conservation offered by contemporary technology to preserve the art.” It’s not just new museums experimenting with mobile technology, either. In July this year, the Museum of London promoted its Great Fire 1666 exhibition with a recreation of the capital before, during and after the fire, in the popular mobile game Minecraft. On a similarly gaming-focused note, the National Museum of the Royal Navy made an unlikely alliance with Wargaming, the developer of World of Tanks and World of Warships. The two created an augmented reality (AR) model of the HMS Caroline – permanently anchored in Belfast – which could be viewed by visitors to the Portsmouth museum.
From apps to AR Apps are the most obvious, and probably the most common, way of incorporating mobile into the museum experience. These vary from basic interactive maps to replacements for the traditional audiovisual tour, and single apps for specific exhibitions and galleries. Digitising collections, to make them available through apps or online, is a current priority for many museums. Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, for example, currently has 250,000 items available
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