Friday, August 01, 2008

Museums are embracing mobile technology

Mike Short tipped me off to an interesting event coming up in September showcasing how museums like London's Tate Gallery are using mobile technology to enhance the visitor experience. (It's a one-day event "From Audiotours to the iphone" on 5th September and costs £150.)

And it got me thinking as to what museums are doing in the field of mobile marketing, advertising and media. And it seems they're up to quite a bit. And I imagine some of these things will be explored further at The Tate's forthcoming Symposium.

Across the pond, Cellit ran 'The Digital Post Office of Love', a Valentine's Day promotion, for the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art as part of its ongoing SMS marketing effort. This featured a large, interactive display where visitors could use their mobile phones to instantly post messages via sms to woo other visitors, all in the spirit of Valentine's Day.

Dan Sutch from Nesta's Futurelab has some ideas as to what mobile learning and mobile experiences could be like, particularly from a youth marketing and youth engagement perspective. The slides are interesting and should be food for thought.

Boston Museum of Fine Arts launched a mobile initiative, MFA Mobile. Through MFA Mobile, users are able to personalize a mobile device with works of art from the Museum’s extensive collection of art, ranging from a Claude Monet water lily or Edward Hopper lighthouse to an Egyptian sculpture or African mask.

However, I'm slightly more cynical about this as they were charging $1.99 for an individual image or $4.99 a month for a subscription. I suspect that you could actually take a picture with your cameraphone of *most* of the exhibits which would negate the need for the download. And not only that, if you go to the website, it's easy enough to save the images for free.

I think if I were running this service, I would look to make a donation optional but easy to do to help generate revenues. And perhaps provide the subscription package as an added value bonus to some other fundraising scheme. Maybe Boston museum-goers are happy to pay these prices?

I've been a fan of TXTual Healing for some time and they help create public performances with text messages, some of which are at museums and art galleries. Check out their blog for details of past events.

And if that's not enough, then a rifle through Textually's blog using the tag museum will come up trumps with some interesting examples of what's happening with mobiles and museums, including a lot of art exhibits.