Better late than never, the art world is embracing technology.
Museums have been one of the last fortresses to fall to a wave of digital transformation, but in 2014, a shift to digital is starting to take shape. In historically silent museums, cell phone use has been viewed as a disruption and generally forbidden. But for such a visitor- driven experience, integrating technology to enrich the customer experience is a no-brainer. The challenge for these traditional establishments is finding a way to adapt to digital without it being a distraction.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been an early adopter of the digital customer experience. Introduced this fall, The Met is a refreshed app for users to stay current with museum happenings, wherever they are. Their transformation promised to put digital in every customer touch point to enhance exploration of the museum. The Met is not alone, other major museums like the Museum of Modern Art, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and American Museum of Natural History are following suit.
For the businesses we work with, reimagining the customer journey for a modern culture goes beyond mobile app development and looks at the full end-to-end experience. As we’ve discussed before, customers no longer want a separate digital and physical experience- there needs to be one seamless customer experience. The lines are blurred in the “new era” of consumer interactions but chances are, your customer already expects more from your business than what you currently offer.
Across industries, the digital strategy of the transition from analog to digital needs to be all encompassing and omni-channel. At the MoMa, Ms. Paola Antonelli, senior curator, insists that museums have an important role to play in helping people explore and understand the emerging hybrid culture.
“It’s this strange moment of change,” she explained. “And digital space is increasingly another space we live in.”
It is a fantastic time for art to reimagine the customer experience with digital enhancements. Social media, augmented realities, high definition projections and 3D modeling of historical objects are all new innovations used to heighten the abstract with reality. For concepts too abstract or partially lost in history, digital visualizations can fill the gaps. For example, the gunboat Philadelphia, built in 1776, is the last surviving cannon-bearing American vessel from the Revolutionary War. The historic boat has been 3-D-scanned so online viewers can see it from angles not possible in person at the National Museum of American History in Washington.
The Hayden Planetarium in the American Museum of Natural History has redefined observation by coupling big data with the sophistication of graphics. They have been building a “digital universe”, a 3D atlas that has never been been possible to see before. Here’s a preview:
Augmented reality has been making bold strides in the art world. Created as a research project in Stanford University, A++ uses image-recognition technology to scan a work of art with a phone or tablet, and the artwork is surrounded by a ‘digital halo’ of computer graphics to provide supplemental information.
And museums are benefitting as well. Thanks to crowdsourcing, more than 3,500 people have volunteered to transcribing documents at the Smithsonian Institution so that the documents can be made available in digital format. And in the United Kingdom, 3D printing has been employed to recreate physical replica of objects for the Science Museum of London to fill in the historical gaps of art eroded by time.
It is an exciting time for the art world and enthusiasts. As each museum carves out it’s digital experience, we recommend designing the customer journey strategically, end-to-end, with an emphasis on an omni-channel framework.