Distanced and Isolated in the Museum
Author: Dana Michealovich
As one enters a museum and starts to wanderlust, one can truly sink into a tour experience, unique for him or her. In this essay, I aim to explain how the effects of the pandemic can help museums and their visitors attain this elusive and yet unmistakable feeling of a valuable and rich tour.
COVID-19 has caused great damage to the cultural sector and will continue to have an affect on its activity. Museums worldwide have been closed for several months, some still forced to be closed until further notice by local regulations. However, when the cultural sector opens its doors to visitors, the experience will have to be much different.
Let us imagine the near future somewhere in middle of 2021. How will museums operate and what advantages has this crisis revealed about visiting a museum?
Space is needed in museums. It is the factor that will determine one’s experience. A visitor passing in a crowded gallery possesses limited patience and energy to be channelled towards the exhibits. Audience management, an already existing job within a museum’s team, became and will become even more crucial in the post COVID-19 era. Technology will end up playing the biggest part and must be owned and implemented by the audience managers.
Headcounts: controlling the number of visitors at any given time
Protecting the visitors’ pandemic-wise is also an opportunity to sustain a spacious gallery room. Benches will be less occupied, and people will enjoy strolling around since they will not be entering after an hour-long line in the sun or cold wind.
Scanning stations. Sounds obsolete, but far from it. A scanner, operated by bluetooth, automatically counts visitors entering and exiting (based on time log to differentiate) each room.
A more sophisticated method will be connecting the headcount to the mobile guide. The visitors could pre-order their tour for a specific time slot via the museum's app. There will be no overcrowded long lines, as visitors are streamed spaciously through the pre-booked tour to certain exhibition rooms.
*It’s important to emphasize that this doesn’t require retaining any personal data
Content experts in, digital developers out
Consuming information in the museum is a personal experience. Content should be presented in various forms, to reach the majority of your audiences. The museum should present the content via text, audio, images and with various narratives.
Museums should find a way to cultivate content in different ways. The museum’s personnel live and breath its stories. They are the experts best capable of telling the stories and educating visitors. Bringing them into the creation process can result in a valuable tool for learning.
Additionally, the content staff, together with curators and arts management experts will need to versatile their toolbox. Adding audio and written content isn’t an extra task, it’s the main job and needs to be prioritized and constantly in action.
The subscription model widely adopted by museum subcontractors has done well for the sector. No need to approve a $100K budget for an app that will take 6 months to build. For a monthly price of a couple of hundred dollars, the museum can launch an app in only a few days. It’s crucial to use a platform that allows for constant content updates, in order to enrich it with visuals, gamification features, scavenger hunts and more.
Anonymous data about reading and listening statistics can be accumulated by monitoring the number of visitors and crossing it with the pre-booked tickets. This will help with predictions that can save resources. Fewer employees which need to direct the traffic, and more budget for professional guides and content specialists.
In conclusion, a museum that will reopen to the public needs to evaluate its capabilities to monitor the crowd and serve them unique stories. These are not new goals, but rather goals that have now become mutual to the visitor and to the museum and this is a great incentive to fulfill them.
About the author:
Dana Michealovich is an expert in digital solutions for museums, focusing on indoor orientation. She has researched the way museums use digital tools to communicate with their visitors in her academic career and holds a BA from Venice International University, as well as an MA from Tel Aviv University.
*As of recently, Dana joined the STQRY team and functions as our EMEA sales manager. If you are interested in learning more about how your organization can use a digital app solution powered by STQRY, click this link to set up a demo with Dana!