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Technology and Mission

At Tuesday tech session, Keir Winesmith says SFMOMA is rethinking shape and purpose of what museum can be - with tagline "We've temporarily moved ... everywhere." Their Art + Data day brought technologists, designers, other creative professionals together to imagine ways to give people access to collections data.  Keir says our mobile devices are smarter, more reactive, more transporting than fancy technologies museums have offered. Need to use them properly and also simpler ones: post-its, people.

Nik Honeysett oversees digital department supporting 27 cultural institutions in Balboa Park from tech support to elaborate in-gallery interactives, signage, large scale digitizations for collections access - he's aiming for single unified digital strategy for whole destination. (Good luck, Nik!) 

Laura Mann of Frankly, Green + Webb re digital and mobile projects:  Bigger budgets don’t necessarily improve the quality; they just raises the stakes.  Digital services and products are means to end, not end in themselves; should be the compelling center of mission-audience-delivery Venn diagram.

Nik reminds us that museums introduced the public to touch screens and hyperlinking.

Keir: Challenge to sort out what information should be on label, in media, in printed materials. What tool helps visitor look at work?

Nik: Can’t second-guess what visitors want to know; trend's self-discovery/user as protagonist. Museums can be authorities, create strong content around works/subject.

What investment should museums make in tech/digital? Must always relate to mission. Advice: provide free Wifi; capture everything.

Laura: Think about life span of digital project and anticipate obsolescence.

Keir's 3-18-3 rule of thumb for digital planning: evaluate at 3 mos, change content at 18 mos; replace after 3 years. 

Laura: Perception that audio guides are isolating is false; study shows guide prompts people to discuss what they saw and learned more than had they not used it.

Keir: One audience is the person doing something at museum; another is people watching the person do something. Think about both. 

Josh P asks about maximizing return on investment. Nik: no ROI right off on digital; building credit for future. Laura: before you start, ask what success is and how you'll know it. Keir: put $ in budget for evaluation.

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