For some, the idea of visiting museums can be boring. The ideal museum experience should value improving the understanding of art and enhancing the visitor experience. One of the ways to provide this experience is to give out audio guides at the museum. The guide can be a helpful tool when organizing curated tours, art making workshops, and special events that encourage kids and adults to learn about art together. Audio guides typically have keypads and come with headphones and a few have lcd screens to show a menu. This post will explore the potential issues with audio guides and how to improve them.
Include Curated Information
Successful audio guides provide visitors with enough engaging material to allow them to interact with exhibits at their own pace. Determining their niche audience can help museums to target all levels of users regardless of their profession, age, or tech knowledge.
The Whitney Museum’s “Curate Your Own Membership” program’s tagline states, “Customize your experience and maximize your benefits.” In this program, the Whitney categorizes its members into four groups, “Social, Insider, Learning, and Family.” For select exhibitions the multimedia guide features tours for adults and kids created by the artists and curators.
Simplify the Interface
Entering numbers with a keypad to learn about an artwork isn’t intuitive as it creates a barrier for a simpler usability. It can be exhausting and time consuming to look at the artwork and the device repeatedly. Instead of typing out numbers, museums should eliminate keypads all together. The Reichstag building of Berlin offers their visitors motion censored audio guides. The motion sensor works by using proximity beacons inside the museum. As the visitor climbs the ramp of the glass dome, the interactive experience activates and prompts the user to look at a point of interest. In the course of 20 minutes, the audio guide gives a brief history of the Reichstag Building and its surroundings.
Make it Accessible
Audio guides can help people with accessibility needs such as the blind, partially sighted, deaf, or those with hearing loss. The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers Audio Guide players that have volume controls and headsets. They also offer neck loops for hearing aids with t-switches upon request.
Additionally, museums can include a video guide with subtitles and transcripts for deaf or hard at hearing visitors.
Museums can also offer multiple language options for foreign visitors, which allows them to increase their audience, especially in larger cities. Researching your audience to determine the most common nationalities can help in creating targeted language options.
Gather Visitor Feedback
Providing surveys to museum visitor at the end of the tour can be helpful for immediate feedback. Feedback is key to keeping visitors engaged with the exhibition and the museum.