An interactive experience for art museums that helps to establish a connection between visitors and artworks
Based on the dynamic changes in technologies and ubiquitous methods of acquiring information, museums face challenges on how to compete as a medium of cultural importance. In this project, our team aimed to explore the existing problems of visitors in the art museums, as well as to propose an interactive solution that exploits social & mobile computing. The following question became the major challenge of the project:
"How technology can help visitors to build
a deeper connection with a piece of art?"
InsideArt is an interactive project for art museums created as a part of the Social & Mobile course at the University of Queensland. The project aims to enhance the connection between visitors and artworks delivering more meaningful experience.
Ideation & Design
We wanted the visitor to experience the art in a novel way. We created an environment that guided the visitor through the exhibition prompting to interact with particular artworks and presenting a storyline that is relative to the person.
We used the personalization technique that allowed us to connect visitors with relevant artwork and storyline.
We designed the tangible device to navigate visitors through the exhibition and to provide another layer of connection on the physical and emotional levels. We placed a digital screen in front of original artwork that enables visitors to find their reflection inside the art interactively and provided the opportunity to explore the artwork storyline in detail encouraging deeper interest and connection with it. As a post-visit experience, visitors could access artworks they explored.
As a next stage, we ran the co-design workshop to evaluate our concept with potential users and involve them in the co-design process. I defined the goals of the workshop and panned the activities.
The workshop included several stages:
we asked people to choose pictures from the table that they feel more connected with and provide their reflections on their choices,
we did the same activity but allocating paintings for each person based on their interests we collected beforehand,
we provided small-scale portrait photos of each participant to help us understand how they see themselves in the artwork and to understand their perception of this experience.
The feedback from the participants helped us to proof the concept we initially build, to enhance the personalization, as well as discover user interaction with the digitalized artwork.
The initial stage of the project was focused on an understanding of the problem area and the context we are working on. As a team, we conducted:
Two rounds of interviews with visitors and museum experts,
Observations in the Brisbane Art Gallery and GOMA to understand visitors' behaviors in this space,
Research on existing interactive solutions,
Literature review of spectator experience in the museums and how to design in this space.
Throughout this research, we identified that although museums try to build the story behind artworks, people are likely to have a meaningful and special experience if they can draw the parallel with their own lives.
“... when you find some reflection of yourself is what people getting interested in …”
“... people started to play and bring their kids as it was part of their life ...”
“... the exhibition of Afghanistan was exceptional...my son took part in the military actions ...”
“... it was full of information, but I was not interested in this topic at all...”
Now, after the definition of the problem space and target audience, we were ready to sketch out the concepts. We used the brainstorming sessions to generate the ideas "without judgments", followed by discussions to enhance and narrow down the pool of concepts.
To gain valuable feedback, we reproduced the entire experience by providing an environment that is close to the real context.
The prototype included several parts:
The screen was the first point of contact with the product. The visitor was introduced to the product, selected his interests, and was taken a picture.
Was provided to the visitor before he started his exhibition journey. It provided vibrations when the visitor reached the matching picture.
Exhibition space was imitated with the pictures hanging on the walls with a short description of artworks.
The second screen was placed in front of the physical picture. The visitor could explore it zooming-in, find his own image and read detailed which is relevant to his own interests.
When the project is related to emotions and feeling of people, it is necessary to consider the following aspects:
User research: as it is crucial to evoke a person's emotions, the approach to the research should be thoroughly planned,
Design: each element of the design should be meaningful and contribute to the whole experience,
Sharing: apparently, personalized experience motivates people to share their experiences with other people, therefore visitors should have some tangible takeaways (postcards, etc.).