Does Indoor Navigation Enhance Visitor Experience in Museums? A Primer on Museum Management Technology [Indoor Wayfinding Technology]| 10 min
Read this primer further to explore how indoor wayfinding technology can help museum management strategize space management while surpassing visitor expectations.
Visitor Experience in Museums Today
The experience of witnessing historical artifacts and memorabilia for visitors is quite engrossing due to the ambience the venue creates. The collections’ placement within the venue, the lighting and the engagement with the staff amongst other factors add to the aura of the objects put up for display.
Museums are places which preserve historical materials and showcase it to visitors for the purpose of recreating vital moments from the eras gone by. Material connected to the human race and its activities is quite important in helping us understand where we stand today with respect where we were a few hundred years ago. Museums are a testimony to the fact that humans have an innate desire to collect and maintain historical artifacts for building a discourse for the next generation.
A recent study reveals that museums haven’t been reaching the visitors’ expectancy levels and fail to engage them optimally. What could be the factors leading to this situation?
This is where the use of new technologies can come in and aid in efficient museum management as despite the grandeur of the atmosphere this experience for visitors could remain incomplete if the tour of the museum is not well timed and navigated. Visitors want to maximize their day at the venue and indoor navigation technology achieves just that.
Enhancing Visitor Experience at Museums
Most of us have visited a museum at least once and vividly remember the experience. While we may not recall all that was exhibited, we are sure to distinctly place the chronology of events that occurred before and during the visit.
We might also remember asking lame questions about a certain exhibit to our guide or one of the museum employees. Whether our questions were naïve or the whole experience itself spellbinding, museums do surely regale us with nuances from historical times.
Museums don’t just deliver information gathered from a dozen books but also introduces us to visual material which can be experienced first-hand. To sum up, no other scientific or cultural spaces offer the spectacle which a museum guarantees as it is a comprehensive and visual encyclopedia.
Here are a few ways in which museums can cater to the eager public.
Most venues in the modern day era offer a lot of entertaining facilities which are specifically meant to make the visitors have a jolly time at the venue. But museums are an exception because they entertain as well as educate the visitors.
That is the sole reason why educational and many other institutions take the students to the museums. So that they get to have a real-time look at what is being taught in the classroom sessions because as it is believed that what we see remains for a long time than that of what we read. Visits to museums will make the students retain the knowledge that is taught in the classes.
In natural and historical museums, the exhibits talk about the history of the cultures and their contribution to the existing ones. Most kids from the modern era don’t really have cognizance of history. Museums will educate them about cultures that existed before and the importance they have in the present society.
There is a strong belief that people should adapt to the upcoming technologies to enhance their experiences in their respective facilities.
It’s going good with the existing generations but what about the next generation which is officially called as the ‘Gen Alpha’. Can they accommodate themselves in venues like museums without any technology?
Indoor Wayfinding and Tracking
We are now in an advanced technological society where-in our day to day interactions with other people, shopping for groceries or clothes, paying bills, etc., are mediated through technological platforms which were thought of as impossible a few decades earlier.
Mapping and routing are one of them. Most people, regardless of age, are used to navigating and locating places of interest using their smartphones via GPS technology.
In the context of a museum, imagine if visitors could pre-plan their route within the facility and find their way effortlessly to areas of interest.
Museums do hold regular events either to commemorate a person or an event in history which deserves public attention. With one smartphone application management can schedule and manage events effortlessly.
This will help in greater public participation and enhanced image of the museum as well.
Location Based Services
Use of this kind of apps will facilitate location-based services for users as well. The apps relay location-based notifications, safety tips and alerts, safe zones for meeting in case of an emergency in real-time.
Importance of Technology from Visitors’ Perspective
Anywhere across the world, museum visitors enter the venue with a curiosity to learn, know and get enlightened on the art, science, and many more other aspects related to history. But while they explore the facility, the visitors have been facing a few challenges that happen to occur due to lack of technology within the venue.
Use of technology can be viewed as an empowering experience when used for the right purposes, most often, to better the lives of the populace. Similarly, in museums, an assumed hectic day of the visitor can surprisingly be transformed into a day of fun and learning.
Technology offers opportunities that will enhance visitors’ experience in the museum sector, and many museums have already begun experimenting with technologies to enhance their interpretive and accessibility strategies. By embracing new technologies, it will improve museum activities; museums can be transformed into an innovative and creative space where the visitors can explore the venue with ease rather than not just being an artifact visitor.
A decade from now, technology is going to play an important role in museums; visitors will drive into museums only if there are technological facilities available within the venue, a survey reveals. Not many visitors are interested in wasting time in navigating themselves within the venue and so adaption of technology will be the key for penetrating visitors.
New Technologies for Enhanced Experience
Despite puritan arguments from one side of the spectrum which views museums as spaces which cannot be mediated by technology, there is already a trend setting in which proves otherwise.
Here are a few technologies that will surely be trending in museums in a few years from now.
Indoor Navigation and Wayfinding
Museums have a complicated environment for those who are waiting to be initiated into the spectacle it has to offer once you step inside. Added to this, not many visitors want to kill their time in searching for their spaces of interest within the venue. With this Technology under your disposal, visitors can position and navigate themselves with ease. However, this technology serves the visitors provided they carry devices that can be Bluetooth-enabled like a smartphone.
This geo-location technology functions with the help of beacons, which is a wireless sensor. Through this sensor, the visitors can walk into the museum and explore it from one end to the other without any hindrance. In an online survey by the website EOT (Eyes of Things) from Spain, they found out that using technology in museums will bring a new perspective for the museum visitors and will aid in efficient management as well.
Recently, beacon technology has been attracting the museum sector and it looks like in the near future, museums across the world will become techno-friendly. This technology will offer creative ways of engaging the visitors have with the space and more likely than not, enhance it.
Digital 4D scanners will allow visitors in museums to experience the exhibits in a very realistic manner. This technology is an upgrade of the 3D scanners which was first appeared in the year 1980s. This technology is mostly used in industries that involve product development. However, some art museums are in plans to use 4D scanning in their education and accessibility departments within their museums.
Tactile Gallery in Colorado, US, is a permanent gallery where visitors can touch and feel the reproductions of art. Now with the sophisticated 4D scanning technology, it is highly possible to create extremely precise reproductions of artworks with detailed textures of brushstrokes and colors.
This technology will make the visitors have a participatory interaction with the artifact that can develop a good understanding of the exhibit.
Virtual Reality or VR, in recent times, has got a lot of attention from the mainstream population. Thanks to video game companies who use this technology to upgrade the visitors’ experience in the field of gaming. Now, museums are looking forward to associating with this technology for the betterment of the venue.
Ideally, museums should encourage connection between a visitor and the museum itself, and VR offers the facility that can forge those connections. The use of VR in museums will leave the visitors inspired enough to take more interest in venues that educate and entertain. Also, the use of this technology in museums will be an added opportunity for visitors.
VR has already been in use in some of the venues and the visitors’ number has been increasing after adapting VR. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and Whitney Museum of American Art from the New York City are currently experimenting with VR in their venues and are seeing a massive change in the visitors’ participation. In the future, this technology also allows visitors to experience the venues from their homes.
Even in this age of rampant technological progress, there is enough space for false and misguided information to spread like wildfire before we even realize the repercussions which may occur.
Museums have always acted as a powerful reminder of the history for both darker and lighter sides. But there are many instances where the visitors were not convinced by the artifacts alone and were seeking for something that can visually explain the presented better. Contemporary visitors to museums have complied with lukewarm engagement and passive experiences but the same may not necessarily be accepted by the next generation.
The future of museums according to the director of Whitworth Art Gallery in England is that the visitors will feel at ease due to the technological facilities within the venue. Visitors will commingle and explore things in the company of strangers. He also feels that museums should be sociable spaces that can break the common challenges in the society of social hierarchy and inequality.
However, in whichever age we are, museums have to do everything to engage their visitors, especially, in case of indoor navigation because of the fact that it is a prerequisite in large facilities.
Eventually, museums are much more than just repositories of objects; they are meeting places for people and ideas.