Museum exhibits have always sparked inspiration, imagination and learning as visitors interact with and absorb the content on display. In the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many museums have had to temporarily shut down and are currently unavailable to visitors. Considering this new challenge, many museums are creating new ways to share experiences until visitors can return.
Audiovisual (AV) technology has become a valuable solution to heighten immersive and interactive experiences for museums and exhibits to continue capturing attention and attracting new visitors both remotely and in person. However, the natural draw of foot traffic has been increasingly challenging to maintain. Museums are facing competition from alternative forms of entertainment and education such as streaming, social media-centric pop-ups and easy-to-access content online. In 2018, 20 brick and mortar art galleries in New York’s Lower East Side came together to form the Lower East Side Art Week with a goal “to provide visitors a better understanding of each gallery’s voice and the artists they represent” as a response to declining attendance.
Today, museums should aim to immerse visitors by incorporating AV technology that supports both in-person and remote experiences. In-person, AV technology delivers immersive visuals to create sharable and memorable content for museumgoers. Projectors and professional displays, in combination with video streaming technology, can easily support the transition from in-person experiences to virtual experiences. With remote broadcasts or streaming video content, virtual audiences are able to experience exhibits from home, and museums should strive to build on that excitement for when visitors can travel and visit again.
Even when museums reopen, there will still be limitations, reducing attendance to a certain capacity and maintaining required social distance. This is why it is important for museums to connect virtually through activities such as online tours and immersive exhibits. They should also consider streaming discussions, panels, classes and incorporating other more innovative methods of engaging with audiences. These types of virtual experiences will help to build excitement for visitors and maintain engagement with them until museums are fully operational again.
A few examples of how museums can utilize AV Technology to remain connected virtually and transition the use of technology when foot traffic returns include:
- Classes – Professional displays and high-brightness projectors can provide clear, bright and interactive visuals for both virtual and in-person classes. This is a way to keep connected with visitors by offering instructional classes on subjects such as painting, art history, sculpture, drawing, etc. These virtual classes can also be posted to the museum’s website for future reference.
- Virtual tours – Showcase prominent exhibits utilizing a streaming broadcast .A virtual tour guide could go exhibit by exhibit, floor by floor showcasing the immersive exhibits that bring the subjects to life. The tour guide could point out the highlights of the exhibits utilizing the displays and projectors. Streaming technologies that provide clear, crisp imaging can reflect the visuals from the projectors or displays within each exhibit while streaming directly to live broadcasting services such as YouTube Live and Facebook Live.
- Museum scavenger hunt – Attract new visitors in new interactive ways such as a virtual game of scavenger hunt. Utilize the projectors and displays deployed throughout the museum to offer a unique way for visitors to go through the museum’s galleries and exhibits and gather information virtually. Share a list of tips, clues and artifacts to run a contest for visitors who can fully interact with the museums and potentially find those hidden objects in person down the road.
Museums and museum-goers alike are eager to see full exhibits once again. While the current environment requires new, creative AV solutions to reach people, there is an opportunity moving forward: Museums should focus on unique ways to use AV technology to connect with visitors both virtually and in person as a means to broadly expand their audiences.