Museums agree that mobile technologies are important to visitor engagement (2011 Mobile Technology Survey). Research shows that the use of mobile tools in museums facilitates inquiry activities such as exploration, information search, communication and experience documenting (Hsi 2002, 1) and that visitors benefit from the availability of multiple interpretive resources (Samis 2008, 14-15).
Although they recognize the contributions of mobile technology, in 2011 only half of museums reported that they had implemented mobile technology, and only one in 20 implemented smartphone apps or multimedia tours (2011 Mobile Technology Survey). The majority of museums identified a lack of funding, staffing, staff time, technological expertise and the ability to maintain mobile technology as the top five challenges to mobile adoption (2011 Mobile Technology Survey).
Museums have clearly expressed a need for mobile technology, despite their inability to adopt it widely.
My favorite museum in the world is the Field Museum in Chicago, and my favorite exhibit there is the Hall of Animals. Although the Field Museum has a dedicated digital staff, ther mobile apps have focused on new exhibits. The Hall of Animals, which includes vintage taxidermied animals (in fact, some were shown off at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago), is rarely updated. Interpretation materials for this exhibit are scant. Most animals are displayed with a small placquard providing their genus and species names, place of origin and a few small facts about their species.
I will create a location-based mobile app that will provide aditional, digital interpretive materials for the Hall of Animals.
I still have to figure out exactly what kind of app I want to make, but I would like to get into the iOS Programming book to get a better idea what kind of capabilities I can realistically create before I commit.
My ideas so far are:
• Multimedia tour
• News feed about animals (with ranking and bookmarking)
• Mobile game/scavenger hunt
2011 Mobile Technology Survey. Washington, D.C.: http://www.aam-us.org/docs, 2011 (accessed Dec. 17, 2012).
Hsi, S. (2002). The electronic guidebook: A study of user experiences using mobile web content in a museum setting. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Workshop on Wireless and Mobile Technologies in Education, (pp. 48 - 54).
Samis, George. “The Exploded Museum.” In Digital Technologies and the Museum Experience: Handheld Guides and Other Media, ed. Loic Tallon and Kevin Walker, 3-17. AltaMira: Lanham, 2008.