Diversity & Inclusion
Apps / Arts

Brooklyn Museum’s lobby to see tech-heavy makeover: iBeacons, apps, iterative design

The Brooklyn Museum has enlisted Dumbo's SITU Studio to do a better job of welcoming its visitors.

The current configuration of the Brooklyn Museum's main entrance. (Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum)

Museums can be a slightly intimidating experience. The works inside them are often hard to comprehend and the architecture itself can be imposing.
The Brooklyn Museum says it wants to do better.
Not only does the Eastern Parkway institution intend to reconfigure its whole reception area, make better use of the space and help guests get questions answered more effectively, the team intends to do so iteratively. The new structures the team will use to reconfigure the entryway will be modular, so the museum can configure, test, reconfigure and test again.
It’s a software approach to a very weighty project.
“The new environment combined with ASK will offer our visitor a new relationship to the Museum — an
opportunity to truly experience the Museum and especially its exceptional collections,” the museum’s Shelly
Bernstein said in a statement.
ASK refers to an iOS app that the museum is developing. Visitors will be encouraged to download it as they arrive. Staff will be on the other end of the app to answer questions live. Through the app, visitors can ask questions as they move through the museum. ASK staff will also get context for those questions using technology that senses where the app user is physically asking from.
“We are using iBeacon for the indoor location-aware technology and we are installing Estimote beacons in the galleries,” Bernstein explained via email.
ASK certainly sounds like a nicer use of micro location sensors than big box stores using them to nag you to buy more stuff as you wander the aisles.
Despite the fact that there are roughly twice as many Android users as iOS users in the world, the museum’s data shows that 83 percent of its visitors use Apple devices, according to Bernstein. No worries if you don’t want to clutter your iPhone with a new app or use a different smartphone, though. “We’ll also be running kiosk stations on iPads throughout the building ensuring that those who do not have an iPhone or those who choose not to use it during their visit can still access the activity,” she wrote.
Much remains to be determined in terms of just how everything will work and look, according to a post on the Brooklyn Museum’s blog. The redesign is funded as part of “Bloomberg Connects,” an $83 million initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies to use technology to improve the visitor experience at cultural institutions.
SITU Studio, the Dumbo design firm, has been selected to design the new space.

What the redesign hopes to tackle. (Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum)

What the redesign hopes to tackle. (Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum)

Companies: Brooklyn Museum / SITU Studio / Bloomberg Philanthropies
Series: Brooklyn

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