Museums and the Web

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iPod Touch Tour for Robots: Evolution of a Cultural Icon


Conference: 
MW2009
Institution: 
San Jose Museum of Art
Designer: 
Chris Alexander (in-house)
Why: 

The above site is optimized for iPhone or iPod Touch only for viewing in the Safari Mobile Browser (see links below if not device is available)!

In May of 2008, the San Jose Museum of Art launched an innovative, first of its kind iPod Touch/iPhone tour around its exhibition Robots: Evolution of a Cultural Icon. The San Jose Museum of Art prides itself on its ability to create easy to use technologies in-house with minimal cost and no outsourcing. This tour was no exception. Utilizing the latest web application technologies available to the iPod Touch/ iPhone, the tour was constructed using XHTML, CSS, JavaScript and AJAX and was available via museum supplied devices in the galleries or on a visitor’s own device. The adoption rate of the iPhone and iPod Touch in Silicon Valley has been high and the museum wanted to capitalize on it’s unique interface and ease of use.

The tour, which featured “video” labels for several artists in the exhibition, was delivered via the museum’s WiFi system through the iPhone and iPod Touch Safari Mobile Web Browser. Visitors with their own device could login to the WiFi and direct their Safari Mobile Browser to www.sjma.mobi. Once logged in, a list of options was presented to the user - they could select an exhibition, view items from our permanent collection or give feedback on the tour. Upon selecting the Robots exhibition the user was presented with a list of artists in that exhibition. Selecting one of the artists led to a page which allowed the visitor to watch either a Curators Video Label or a Artist Video Label. The Curator’s video featured Chief Curator JoAnne Northrup talking about why she selected the artist for the exhibition. The Artist Video presented the artist talking about their process and/or about their interest in the subject matter.

As with previous projects, the San Jose Museum of Art produced the entire project in-house. The budget for the project, supplied by Director of Marketing Nicole McBeth, was $15,000 not including staff salaries. $10,000 went to purchasing iPods and cases and $5,000 went towards upgrading the museum’s WiFi.

The production staff of two included Lucy Larson, Manager of Interpretation, and Chris Alexander, Manager of Interactive Technology. Armed with a high definition video camera and a wireless microphone system, the two traveled around the Bay Area interviewing exhibition artists in their studios. The footage was brought back to the museum, edited with Final Cut Express and uploaded to the museum’s server for delivery to the handheld tour. Additionally, the videos were viewable via our YouTube Channel and downloadable via iTunes.

The exhibition Robots: Evolution of a Cultural Icon ran from April 12 through October 19, 2008 and saw roughly 28,770 visitors. During this time there were approximately 4200 views of the tour amounting to a 15% use rate.

The tour can be accessed via an iPod Touch or iPhone at: www.sjmusart.org/robottour. Should be done using a wireless connection and not cell phone connection. NOTE: The Museum used an onsite server to deliver the tour locally to speed up video streaming.

If there is no iPod Touch or iPhone available there are two videos available:
http://www.vimeo.com/1487144
http://www.vimeo.com/3013907

Screenshots are available on Flickr at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmalexander/sets/72157613144627620/

Additionally all the videos themselves can be seen on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=1623EBF288F84248

Our recommended video would be of the Artist's Video Label of Nemo Gould at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95n0wCpHjT0&feature=PlayList&p=1623EBF288...

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Nominated By: 
Year: 
2009