Friday, 5 September 2008

From Audio Tours to iPhones at Tate Modern

Spent an enjoyable day with innovative museum folks taking their institutions into the 21st century with the help of handheld and mobile devices at this Tate Modern Symposium. Heard all about best of breed multimedia tours from the Louvre to Momo as well as a host of other large and small UK and US galleries and museums.

Whilst much of the most ground breaking work was designed for the ipod touch/iphone, everyone agreed applications should ideally be device neutral. Knowing the myriad issues relating to interoperability, this may take some time to resolve. Specialist supplier Antenna Audio have tackled this issue by creating their own device thus saving the cash-sensitive sector frequent upgrading costs until these issues are sorted out.

Jane Burton, Creative Director of Tate Media, helpfully questioned what we mean by 'tour' and has developed a number of resource effective ways to create and distribute digital content both for real and virtual gallery visitors expanding and enriching the tour definition and experience. For example, in addition to ambitious gallery-wide tours, Burton has proposed and implemented simple (and cheap) video podcasts, known as Tate Shots, that can be watched online or downloaded to a handheld player.

Also of interest are Tate's research findings indicating multi-media tours not only enhance the user experience, but increase visitor satisfaction and significantly extend museum reach when also distributed online. Online distribution can include third party sites like itunes/iTunesU and YouTube. Burton shared a funny story about a Mark Wallinger video posted on YouTube which generated a significant amount of negative commentary and resulted in some satirical remixes. Hardley surprising that taking the gallery out of the gallery is not for the fainthearted.

Undoubtedly the most exciting conversation came towards the end of the day with talk about the next generation tours. Here Koven J. Smith of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York created a vision for a new approach to curation driven by the imaginative harnessing of user experiences and user generated content. "Why not give real-time feedback to all gallery goers about the day's most popular paintings, best room to visit if you are hungover or feeling blue...", he proposed.

The organisers have set up a wiki where they are posting the conference materials and ongoing contributions. I highly recommend checking out their illustrated mind maps covering conference themes which they created in the previous day's workshop.

Why was I there? Having recently proposed a multimedia tour for a client, I thought what better place to gain cross sector learning experiences and I was not disappointed. In addition, I am now in a position to share a multitude of opportunities with my colleagues who work on the sponsorship team.


cityrambler said...

Hi Ann

The audio tours are not just inside Tate Modern - they are outside too!

Walk Talk Tours MP3 audio tours include Tate Modern in two of their five London audio tours.

As a digital communications consultant we'd like you to take a look at - and then tell us what you think.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Ann Longley said...

City Rambler

Thanks for your comment. I'll check out your site and let you know what I think.


alexander stickelberger said...

hi ann,

I was at the conference and at the workshop on thursday where different insitutions talked about multimediaguides. good is now that there are mobile devices on the market which allows good content delivery and interaction via a touch screen.

more devices will be available soon - we from NOUS-Guide created a CMS where the institution can create content and their own tours for different end user devices.

right now we are apple developers and can transport the content to devices in museums (e.g. iPod touch) or can distribute them via the app store to private iPhones or iPods prior or after the visit.

content creation for multimedia based devices for different situations, tours or insitutions is als a key factor for success - here we have lots of examples and experience...

check out: