Museums are forever having to find new ways to capture the attention and imagination of their visitors.
Entire generations today are growing up accustomed to seeking information online. The idea of going to a museum or library to exercise curiosity has become foreign to many.
Digital signage for museums represents a welcome embrace of technology in a stereotypically conservative sector. It has a number of innovative uses:
1. Welcome messaging
Popular museums receive hundreds, sometimes thousands, of visitors every day. Admission can be a tricky process to manage with long queues compromised of individuals as well as large groups, not to mention often a variety of different languages spoken. Digital signage for museums brings order to what can be a chaotic process. Welcome messaging displayed on screen is an effective way to communicate information like admission pricing and opening hours. There is no better time to promote particular exhibitions than when visitors are waiting in line. Notably, screens are able to display content in multiple languages which is essential when it comes to notices about health and safety or even the location of the toilets!
2. Exhibition video and images
Museum digital signage can be the perfect companion to an exhibition. Often the most effective exhibitions are those that combine a number of mediums to educate about a subject. Today, video is without a doubt our favourite way to consume content. Implementing screens or even video walls are therefore an engaging way to support a museum display. Young visitors in particular would much rather watch a short video on a subject than read a wall of information. A slideshow of images, even animation, is preferable to static posters that are limited by space.
3. Interactive learning
Many of us learn best through a hands-on approach. Interactive learning is hugely important for museums, again especially with younger audiences like those coming on school visits. Digital signage for museums is unparalleled in this function.
Most museums implement some kind of visitor pass. Combining this with RFID tag technology enables visitors to interact with exhibition screens through the increasingly familiar motion of ‘tapping’. RFID tags work to trigger content on a screen, allowing presentations to reload/start for new visitors.
A similar technology well suited to museums is QR codes. QR codes allow visitors (through using a scanner on their phone) to capture content from a screen. Innovative museums can use this to educate. Rather than try to take a picture of the information on an exhibition (or take notes on a school trip), visitors can download content that they can then access later.
Finally, a number of museums are deploying screens with integrated cameras to entertain audiences. Taking photos of exhibitions has been popular since the advent of the camera (even if they are not always approved). In the age of the ‘selfie’ and Snapchat, this is only becoming more integral to a visitor’s experience. Digital signage for museums opens up countless possibilities on this front. Snapchat-style filters on a screen allow visitors to pose, for example, in period dress. A natural history museum might invite visitors to pose with dinosaurs and so on. Installing a camera-feature at an exhibition helps to create a buzz and gives people a great memento to go home with.
4. Wayfinding assistance
Museum digital signage can serve an important wayfinding function. Getting lost in a museum or not being able to find the exhibition you came to see can really detract from a visitor’s experience. A network of screens can be used to offer directions to different exhibitions, this is particularly valuable for sites spanning multiple floors. Digital signage further helps with crowd trafficking as flows can be controlled by manipulating where screens direct visitors. Touchscreen wayfinding kiosks add a search function where users can receive tailored directions to the exhibits they wish to see.
5. Visitor analytics
Linked to the aforementioned interactive qualities of digital signage for museums is visitor analytics. Recording admission numbers is a high priority for museums. Beyond taking the numbers walking through their doors, however, gathering data can be difficult. With the introduction of RFID tags in visitor passes, visitors can be tracked like never before. These devices allow museums to record the footfall to different locations around the site as well as the level of interaction visitors have with particular exhibits. This information will prove invaluable to museums trying to positively shape visitor experience.