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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

A new app for a new museum: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia


Australia's Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is rebuilding, physically and digitally. The entire museum is being refurbished, a new wing is being added and the museum is doubling in size. We are taking advantage of the building work to add WiFi access points to every room in the building and we are creating a smartphone app, with rich artist-lead content, that uses these access points to enrich the post-visit experience and provide emergent location awareness while in the museum. 

As visitors navigate the MCA, lead by curiosity, the suggestions of friends or a themed tour within the app, the app will indicate which works are in close proximity. There is a mixture of text, audio, video and image galleries for each work, depending on what content best contextualises the work for the visitor and the relationship that the MCA's curators have with the artist who created the work. One of the great benefits of working at a museum of contemporary art is active engagement with creators. 

The app is part of an overall interpretation strategy that flows from wall label, to app, to web and finally to catalogue in terms of amount and depth of content. As such, visitors will be able to build their own collection during their visit and, if they choose, will be provided with a unique webpage on the MCA's website that reflects their visit. The location awareness built into the WiFi network will be leveraged to build a stylised rendering of their visit, alongside web friendly content about the works in their collection - such as long form video interviews with artists, detailed curatorial interpretation, educational resources, artist biographies and artist statements. This online diary of the visitor's trip to the MCA is theirs to investigate further, share and come back too. 

The MCA is currently looking into how it can enrich visitor's online diary with further information. Information such as publications about, or by, the artists featured in the visitor's collection, other works by these artist in the MCA's online collection that are not currently on display or highlights of rooms that the visitor missed entirely.

The app will also feature the usual museum contact and location information, visitation advice and a calendar of events and exhibitions. 

The MCA re-opens and the app launches at the end of March and I hope to demonstrate the app less than a month later at Museums and the Web 2012. 


Demonstration - show your project


Keir Winesmith's picture
I am currently Manager, Digital Media at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. I have a wide and diverse background digital media with a focus on developing new technologies for the cultural and broadcast sectors. My experiences include leading teams of developers creating cutting-edge new...