The telltale signs are here: The green canopy of Central Park has everyone sneezing, the humidity has us all “glowing,” and the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex has us believing in fairy tales. (Well, maybe only some of us…) Here at Acoustiguide, spring is conference and convention season. Between Museums and the Web in Vancouver, AAM in Phoenix, and the Museums + Heritage Show in London, we’re ever-inspired by the vitality of the museum community and the energetic work of our colleagues and clients.
In April, Museums and the Web descended upon Vancouver. The craft breweries and beckoning North Shore Mountains had nothing on the very useful workshops and sessions we attended. Accessibility emerged as a big topic; museums are redoubling their efforts to ensure visitors have equal access, whether that’s by getting new funding sources, increasing staffing or looking for new technology solutions.
To this point, there was a palpable sense that no one yet has the answers regarding digital strategy and that we are all—still—only in the middle of this digi-techno-museo journey. This has been evident to Acoustiguide for some time now, as some of our biggest clients, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Ellis Island, are opting for great content and easier-to-use devices. Unshackled from the expectations of technology, content is taking center stage (again). The overall takeaway was a hopeful feeling and the promise of new, experimental and creative possibilities.
In May at AAM, the chilled (and chill!) exhibition hall was a welcome reprieve from sweltering Phoenix. Here, there was a much heavier focus on technology as a generator of empathy, especially with Oculus Go and AR and VR. We were enthusiastic to see podcasting as a hot topic, too. The team from the Smithsonian admitted how much work it took to finesse their Sidedoor podcast, so much so they hired a dedicated staff to get the work done. We know this from first-hand experience, as we’ve just produced our first pilot podcast, a behind-the scenes look at our Ellis Island experience. Get in touch with us to hear more! We were also very pleased to see our colleagues in Taiwan awarded with a MUSE award for their contributions to the National Taiwan Science Educations Centre’s Tinkering Journey Sketchbook app, which you’ll read about in another post, soon.
Echoing key messages from both American conferences, the Museums + Heritage Show put the focus on the visitor experience, ranging from tailoring content to kids to making accessibility a priority. We noticed museums are increasingly concerned that visitors are *too* focused on their screens.
Oh, and if you were curious about the answers to our pre-AAM Twitter/Ellis Island quiz, here are your answers:
1) True or False? All steamship passengers arriving in NYC had to pass through Ellis Island to enter the US.
2) If a doctor wrote an X in white chalk on your coat during the inspection, what did that mean?
THEY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH!
3) What food did immigrant Vartan Hartunian taste for the first time on Ellis Island? a ham sandwich, a bagel, a pastrami on rye, or a hot dog?
A HAM SANDWICH!
4) What year did Ellis Island open as an immigration station?
1492? 1776? 1892? 1903?