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Museum Explorer: new mobile app from National Museums Scotland

I can’t wait to take my next set of visitors to the National Museum of Scotland – yes because its revamp has created a fabulously immersive beautiful space and its interactive exhibits are engaging to the point where kids have to queue up behind me for hours – but also because now I can add in an extra layer of engagement with the Museum Explorer app – (currently available in iPhone flavour only). It’s not just a guide. Its a playful quest that brings you to centre of the experience as explorer: giving you challenges to find artefacts in the museum that the original explorers brought back! Once you’ve found the object, searching the far-flung corners of the museum by using the clues, a code is displayed in the museum near the object that unlocks a badge, a photo opportunity and a social media sharing opportunity. The app is an interactive experience that creates activity for a couple of hours and results in a stimulating and (shhh! educational!) and fun trip.

The app is the result of the Digital team (led by Hugh Wallace @tumshie)’s carefully researched and planned work over the last couple of years, and was produced by Kotikan. Earlier this year, Hugh collaborated with colleagues from National Museum Wales on a conference paper called if Mobile is the Answer, What Was the Question? The paper highlights the digital strategy behind the development of a mobile app, clarifying that apps aren’t the right answer to everything, and should only be developed once you are sure that they offer the right kind of experience for the right audience demographic. The paper also offers takeaways, tips, and a framework for considering mobile projects, which is of value to any arts, cultural or heritage organisation considering developing a mobile app/website/experience.