Mobile at Quai Branly, January 2013

While in Paris for the SIME-SITEM conference in January 2013, I  got to try out some interesting new mobile experiences at the Louvre and Quai Branly museums.

IMG_0419Quai Branly offers a number of mobile experiences for people of all needs and abilities. There are ‘traditional’ multimedia tours on loan on iPod touches; a multi-sensory iPad experience that includes captioning and French Sign Language interpretation, and an experimental NFC (near-field communication) mobile phone audio tour.

The museum ranks among the best for publicizing their mobile offerings, which you can purchase at the ticket kiosk or from desk staff. Just check out this great, highly visible signage, that says not only “we are mobile” but “we are accessible”:

IMG_0405 IMG_0406 IMG_0407 IMG_0408 IMG_0409
IMG_0410 IMG_0411  IMG_0421

For people with low vision, there is an audio-descriptor tour and tactile maps, as well as a seated listening station.

tactile map 2 tactile map listening station
IMG_0441The museum’s innovative mobile offering even include bone-conducting headphones, so visitors’ ears don’t have to be covered by the headset. I don’t find them comfortable, but as their price comes down, these may be appreciated by visitors who feel ‘isolated’ when they wear traditional headphones or earbuds.

Sponsorship from technology companies like Philips and Orange has been critical to supporting the museum’s technology innovations.

IMG_0443I’m not sure how intuitive the icon’s specific meanings are, but Quai Branly’s examples of signage at objects for their mobile offerings is worth studying. At the very least, they say again, “We have mobile!”

object signage 3 object signage with LSF object signageQR code

ipadIn terms of concept, the iPad was the offering that gave me the most food for thought. It aims at universal design, so that all audiences are served by a single platform and product, regardless of their ability. This is a challenging goal, and Signes de Sens achieved a lot in this first major effort. The devices were a bit heavy, and the content a bit long, for extended in-gallery use while standing. But these are problems that are more easily solved now that the overarching solution has been piloted.

One thought on “Mobile at Quai Branly, January 2013

  1. Pingback: Is innovation possible in museums? SIME-SITEM 2013 | Smithsonian 2.0

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