Digitally Enhancing the Visitor Experience

Like digital exhibits, digital technology in the museum helps museums enhance their visitors’ experience. This may be crafting a playlist for your visitors to listen to when visiting your exhibits, or it may be creating a podcast that explains pieces in your collections. You could use these with or as digital exhibits, or explore using them in tandem with in-person exhibits.

This developing field presents a number of ways museums can provide digital experiences that enhance their visitors’ engagement and exhibits’ impact. The growth of services such as Smartify, software that helps museums make a mobile and online experience for visitors, shows museums’ investment in crafting impactful digital experiences for their visitors. It doesn’t have to be expensive for the museum to create or for visitors to use this content either. The “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) movement encourages museums to make the most of smartphones by creating digital experiences that can be viewed through apps or web browsers.

Because BYOD means that digital technology can be created for anyone who has a smartphone or tablet, playlists, podcasts, and augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR) also become options for accessible museum content. For example, museums may consider using these options to provide audio tours in multiple languages. there are many other ways these tools can enhance accessibility. InclusivityMaker, a company who advocates broadly for disability inclusivity, explores the ways these kinds of tools can apply digital accessibility to create more accessible in-person museum experiences. For more information on accessibility, you can also visit both our website accessibility page and accessibility and accommodations page.

The sources below explore podcasts, playlists, and AR/VR as a way to enhance your visitors’ experience digitally.

Podcasts

Podcasts can be used to tell your museum’s story, but they can also work like audio tours for museum visitors. For example, the Louvre Museum has begun posting museum audio tours on Apple podcasts that guide visitors through the museum and explain their collections.

How to create a podcast and podcasts as a means of telling your museum’s story are detailed in our digital storytelling page, and resources for making accessible descriptions of your collections and objects can be found on our accessible images and videos page.

Playlists

Like podcasts, music streaming platforms are making their way into the museum. Museums have begun exploring the possibilities of Spotify in curating a unique experience that provides visitors with new connections to your exhibits. For example, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston created a playlist for their Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation exhibit. This playlist contains music from the time as well as music that inspired Basquiat, from Dizzy Gillespie, Michael Jackson, and Billie Holiday, for example.

The great news is that creating a Spotify playlist can be simple, and they have a guide for users. You can also use Spotify Codes, an image visitors scan with the app that takes them directly to your playlist.

Below are some examples of playlists museums have created for their visitors:

Virtual Reality (VR) / Augmented Reality (AR)

Especially during the pandemic, museums have been using VR to take visitors to new places and explore the worlds in and around their collections. MuseumNext shows what VR looks like in museums and how some have used the technology to change visitor engagement by putting them in exhibits. Other museums have used AR to explore new ways of interacting with their exhibits entirely. BlooLoop, a news source for organizations concerned with attracting visitors, explores what AR is and can do for museums, letting visitors interact with exhibits in new ways through their smartphones.

VR and AR technology can still be costly in terms of money and time, so it’s important to determine how crucial VR/AR immersion might be to maximizing your project’s impact — a question that is usually answered by whether it’s motivated by the technology or the ideas. If that is the case, there are resources that help smaller museums create these experiences. SparkAR is one way to create AR through filters for social media and other platforms. For VR, there are free resources for museums to use thanks to its growing use in education.