Museum Federation Presentation
For our other project, at the moment simply called ‘Museum ARG’, we went up north to give a preview of what we can do with museums. How ARGs can make museums more fun, keep people involved and prolong their stay.
We were asked to do a presentation and some form of preview for the (annual) meeting of the Frisian Museum Federation (Museum Federatie Fryslan), to show what can be done with ARGs/quests in a museum setting: a trip past the highlights of the museum without the usual dull, rigid list of bulletpoints.
This year’s meeting was about QR codes and possible uses thereof. The museum itself has already replaced a number of text sheets with a QR code. One for instance sends you to a corresponding Internet page which tells you about a specific object, offering pictures and links to relevant articles on Wikipedia.
Museums have noticed that visitors are staying an increasingly shorter amount of time. This is because people do not know where to look and wander around aimlessly from exposition to exposition until finally leaving.They want the highlights, not walk around for hours on end.
There are a lot of ways to tell people where to go, but all of the existing versions are passive: telling the visitors where to go with no input of the visitor, no form of interaction. In this world where you can interact with pretty much anything people are beginning to expect interaction and deeper involvement everywhere.
An ARG is a great tool to bring that involvement to museums. The visitors are not only passively looking at art/history, they can now also be involved, like finding clues in a painting or remembering a Saint’s name which could come in handy later. All those things can help bring a museum to whole new level of enjoyment.
As Trailhead we have the know how to execute things like this and the Frisian Museum Federation have museums spread all over the province, with subjects ranging from farming till the start of Philips. The person tasked with PR and museum innovation, Jacob, thought that this would go well together, and it indeed did.
We made a small Prezi (which apparently leaves a striking impression on most people) after which we had a sampler of the game we’re developing: three puzzles that would send them through the museum.
Since there were a lot of people attending they where divided in three groups so that we wouldn’t be flooded and everyone could see the puzzles for themselves.
The puzzles consisted of a sheet of paper with parts missing. Players could place this over an existing piece of text to show a message. This would send them to the museum’s open depot where they would find the next puzzle: a transparent sheet with a silhouette under a cross. Holding this sheet in a specific angle players could lay it over an old closet, with the cross lining up on a painting. Together with a cryptic message this led players to the final part of the demonstration: a QR code hidden on blinds. When players scanned this code they would get a message, telling they had finished the demo.
It was a lot of fun to introduce a new way of experiencing museums to the people that run them. It surprised us how much fun they had themselves with the puzzles we presented to them. We got a lot of positive reactions on our presentation as well as the way we used the existing expositions to create a more immersive experience.
Most of the people from the Federation recognized the problem with visitors. (with notable exception of the Planetarium museum since that has its own magic happening). The possibilities we showed and the solutions we proposed
Now lets see what this seed we planted will bring us.