The second blog by Harriet Burke, Head of Digital Marketing at London Transport Museum as part of her Fellowship at AMA Digital Lab.
The exciting news I have since I wrote my last blog is the we have now appointed a new digital agency who will be responsible for building and launching a new London Transport Museum (LTM) website in 2020! This is incredibly exciting news for the Museum and one I’m excited to share with everyone later in the year.
Whilst the web project starts picking-up steam, another piece of work I’ve turned my attention to is think about how we can encourage more engagement with visitors or provide that little spontaneous surprise when they are physically at the Museum in Covent Garden or our Museum Depot in Acton.
One method that has been rolled out successfully at other Museum’s is the use of beacons. Beacons are small wireless sensors that communicate with Bluetooth enabled smart devices, picking-up the user’s proximity to a specific beacon and delivering them the desired corresponding app content. Beacons are generally quite cost effective to implement (great to hear for any budget conscious organisation), plus, one of the other bonuses with this technology, is that building it is relatively easy to implement.
As mentioned in Met Museum’s blog “As mobile technology is developing, the boundary between the physical and the digital user experience is rapidly disappearing.” I think any Museum in this day and age is keen to further integrate their digital and physical Museum experience. For example, at London Transport Museum, we have over 450,000 items in our collection, which we obviously don’t have the space to put all on display. Therefore, finding a cost-effective, engaging, relevant, convenient and digital way to share the content with visitors really seems like a no-brainer!
Members of the MediaLab explore the galleries of Egyptian art using beacon technology.
Photo © Don Undeen
At LTM, we don’t currently have an audio guide, and this is something that has been discussed for a number of years now to enhance the visitor experience. “Instead of audio headsets, visitors [they] can use their phones. Instead of searching through a brochure for the right exhibit, beacons can pinpoint their location with accuracy.” Therefore, I am keen to present beacon technology as something we look to do at the Museum. As we have such a strong family customer-base, I would like to look at us developing a scavenger hunt utilising beacon technology with clues and treasures popping-up around our galleries. Another example where beacon technology has worked well in the Museum-sector was at the Brooklyn Museum where their beacon integrated app allowed visitors to ask questions to experts in real-time and on-site.
Finally, through utilising beacons we can look at designing experiences for visitors who have different levels of engagement. From passionate transport researchers to a three year old who ‘just loves trains’, we want to be designing experiences that truly enhance their visit, leaving them with positive, long-lasting memories from their time with us. Our Museum mission is ‘igniting curiosity to shape the future’ and it seems that digital technological innovations are increasing the way for us to go in order to fulfil this ambition.
Photo of National Slate Museum, Wales. Photo from https://blog.beaconstac.com/2015/02/3-museums-using-beacons-to-enhance-interactivity/
Harriet Burke, Head of Digital Marketing, London Transport Museum.