The British Museum has released an app showcasing the current exhibition 'Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum'. This is quite an interesting move by the museum as it aims to open the exhibition to people who cannot actually get to the site, allowing them to now experience it from home. Hence, a wider audience can actually enjoy the exhibition. With museums now moving away from investing in websites to building targeted apps, is this the way of the future? (Econsultancy).
Website vs App
Throughout the last couple of years, museum websites have become more sophisticated and aim to inform and also inspire visitors. A very interesting example is the Tate art gallery’s website which focuses on interaction and learning, and can be considered a best practice example. Several microsites provide space for young creatives to showcase their own work, whilst also offering creative resources such as exam help for arts students. The Tate also has a microsite designed for kids, Tate Kids, with age appropriate content in the form of games, films and inspirational galleries, which is quite interestingly done.
Apps on the other hand are a lot more straightforward in terms of raising money, and could aim to get direct revenue by charging a couple of pounds per download. However, the amount of money charged per download needs to be justified. With the large number of apps already on the market, consumers want to get a lot for their money and expect added value, particularly if an app is not available for free. It can be challenging to fulfil these expectations.
Apps replacing guidebooks?
Are apps ready to replace guidebooks? This is a question that is being discussed in the industry at the moment. The exhibition app offered by the British Museum is a first attempt to tap into the app market. However, unless the museum creates a museum-wide app in the future, apps will not replace guidebooks just yet. It can be quite challenging to build an app given the magnitude of information available on the different museum exhibitions. An app replacing a guidebook would need to provide greater functionality, probably be very visual and easy to use, which can be quite costly to create.
The British Museum followed an interesting approach by creating the exhibition app and its success will certainly be interesting to monitor. Museums worldwide aim to diversify their use of digital and are open towards the use of new technologies. With more time passing, museums and other attractions will become better and more willing to invest in websites and different apps at the same time. However, it is down to the individual attraction to determine which source of income will be most important in the future; if it’s about getting income through visitors, through the website or apps. Certainly, it will be very interesting to monitor museums and attractions in terms of their digital strategies in the future.
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