Help museums to preserve our cultural heritage while making accessible to a wider audience.

Timeline: 1 week     Team size: 3 peeps     Role: Ux designer
The brief​​​​​​​
Overview: Since the 1970s, museums and other public institutions have been suffering a profound crisis. The purpose of this type of institution is to make heritage accessible to everyone. They build bridges between art and people.
Challenge: How could We help museums and other public institutions fulfils their mission of preserving cultural heritage while making it more accessible to a wider audience?
Secondary research was conducted to understand how museums in the past decades have gradually evolved their ways of conducting exhibitions. A strong politic of democratisation as well as Inclusivity lead to touchable art events, where blind people could appreciate sculptures and paintings at the touch of their fingertips for the first time. Contemporary as well as conceptual artists including more and more technologies on their productions, combined to the emergence of “new museums” willing to grow their audience, resulted in the conceptualisation of more playful interactive exhibitions. The exhibitions later transformed into fully immersive experiences with complex storytelling, and the visitor at the center of this universe combining technology, knowledge and poetry.​​​​​​​
The latest innovations appeared during the Covid 19 pandemic where in some places such as the Saatchi Gallery of London, a little robot on wheels could be piloted through the venue so that the user could visit the gallery from his home. Another initiative worth mentioning is the one of the Louvre Paris, who offered virtual visits through its website, a mix between Google Street View and One Take Movie. You could manage your visit inside the museum by clicking on where you want to go, getting to extra content, from the computer. Almost as if you were walking through it.
The art world is constantly searching for new ways to spread art, culture and knowledge. A big tendency is to merge traditional, immersive, interactive and tech in a one of a kind emotional/sensorial experience.
We interviewed 5 people on their relationships with art, culture, museums and exhibitions. Here are some of the most interesting results we had:
What can you tell me about museums?
-“Museums are places that have a lot of cultural info but they kind of divide the population (High vs Low) and they complicate culture, dictating on what is art and what is it not”
What are you gonna see generally/What are you interested in (topic/period/etc.)/ What type of exhibition do you like? (interactive, passive, guided, outdoor, etc.)?
-“I like immersive experiences. My favorite one is an earthquake simulator. Educational videos. Touching things.”
Why do you go to museum ?
-“I am a museum-goer so I can have access to a lot of resources to “educate” myself.”
What was a bad experience in a museum or exhibition as a visitor? and why?
-“Inaccessible language, and also if you don’t understand what the object represents, you can be lost.”
-“The Tate modern, Van gogh exhibition. Way too many people! I couldn’t get closer than 10m away from any paintings. And it was really pricey for that.”
-“In Argentina, at the National History Museum in La Plata, all bones were just left on the floor. (Lack of money, resources). Also, le Louvre does not even have tags in English (Lack of accessibility through Language barrier)”
In your mind, how do you envision “the perfect museum experience”?
-“Have my own Museum. Plan what I would like to see and when so it wouldn’t be to croudy or noisy. I would love to be able to go backstage and see what people never normally see from the museum. I would love to be by myself with experts only for me to ask everything. I want “The Curtis” Museum.”
Affinity diagram
Using an affinity diagram, we extracted from our user interviews key insights that we divided into 3 families: positive, negative and tech-related. To highlight what were the main concerns.
- “Institutions should show people that art is everywhere and should make it more accessible”
- “I would love to be able to transport myself inside a piece of art, to hold things, to feel some more tangible pieces. Push the immersive experience even further.”
- “I love to go to museums because it reminds me of when I was child, how I discovered the world there. I have had so many good experiences. I’m discovering something new every time”
- “It would be cool to have an app where you can access museums. So, something more open, more fun, more interesting.”
Empathy map
Using an empathy map really helped us identifying the major pain points our users were facing during their experiences in the art world. Based on the interviews, an emotional map was created. The combination of both the empathy and the emotional maps allowed us to clearly target the next challenges of the project.
Based on the information collected from the different users, we came up with the persona of the Marvelous Molly. This persona will help us understand the motivations and struggles faced by our main users. Molly is a young professional in today’s world.
She is just starting to question if everything new handed to her is actually fitting her lifestyle. She loves to learn new things that allow her to shine in her social life but she doesn’t want to spend too much time or effort to acquire this new knowledge.
User journey map
Let’s have a look at Molly’s journey when she is going to an art exhibition in a museum. We divided it into 3 Phases: Preparation, Visiting and Post visit. Building Molly’s journey allowed us to highlight her main pain points which we saw as opportunities to improve her overall experience.
Some pain points:
Getting bored when waiting during the exhibition — The information is too generic (Artist name, dates, piece name, date, materials size, museum of origine) — Feeling pressure to read fast because people are waiting for you to move. — The only information they have are the paper ticket and the paper flier that explain the context of the exhibition or the venue’s website. — After the visit: She doesn’t remember what it is, from who, no more information. She doesn’t have contextual information on specific art pieces.
Some Opportunities:
centralised information — digital ticket version — having content that you can — check when you want, at your rhythm — having “learning games” to play when you are waiting — give unlimited access to the exhibition content — giving access to more historical context, artist biography, etc.
To start the next phase, based on the collected data, we identified the main challenges we had to solve:
Help museums spread culture to more people.
Make sure that the content is gonna be easy to get.
Learning should be a playful experience.
Thenewly acquired knowledge should be used to socialize.
The access to this knowledge should be limited in time
We took a couple of creative rounds, using the Crazy 8’s. We first selected the most relevant concepts by using a 0, 1, 3 voting system. We ended up with 10 ideas that we combined to get a core concept for Molly.
From this core concept : “ I want to get access to some specific knowledge during the visit and interact with the exhibition as well as after: to keep my culture level up. The way to learn should be effortless, school is in my past.” We did two other crazy 8 sessions. The first one focused on Must/Should have features. From the most relevant ones, we did another round focussed on versions. We then brainstormed a quick simple and logical User flow to prototype.
The goal of this app is to give you the opportunity to learn as much as you want about art pieces you like, and then to be able to socialize around that. To make sure that you keep remembering about your visits, complimentary content and fun facts are provided as well as creative workshops and quizzes. Quizzes will give you access to additional content, conferences and rewards such as discounts, access to upcoming exhibitions and even free tickets. All the pictures that you take, content that you check, activities that you do and quizzes that you complete, establish your ART BE profile. Based on this, you will gain access to statistics and suggestions of other art users with the same interests as yours.
User testing
Thanks to our classmates, we could do some user testing and collect their precious feedback. About the user flow itself, we had only one bad comment, we forgot to put a go back arrow, so the testers were quickly stuck. Some users would have appreciated more instructions on how to use some specific features such as the game. As some users were not comfortable with watching a video inside a museum, an idea came up to only be able to consult video content after the exhibition.
All the testers were really enthusiastic about it: “The flow felt easy, logical and well thought out!”
They all commented on the style of sketches used to do the prototype : “ Really cool and arty!”.
They thought that the sketchy look was already a step to the final look, when they were just rough sketches…
Some other comments were : “That’s a really cool concept! I would definitely use that app! I actually want it!”
Overall, all testers mentioned they would want to see more.
What’s next?
Some features have to be slightly changed for user comfort. A go back arrow must be added on every pages. The information hierarchy should be re-designed for a better and faster understanding. The first look/visuals made a good impression. Maybe something to carry on. We now have some new material to go back to another spin of the creative process, refining our concept. If you liked it please leave me a comment. Maybe we could open a KickStarter campaign soon.
Thanks a lot for your time.

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