In April 2015, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, entered into a pilot project with the Finnish company Silencio to leverage their museum audio tour app Guidio to produce a beacon-driven audio tour of the Albright-Knox’s Collection galleries. The Guidio app has been used by several museums throughout Finland and other countries in Europe, but the Albright-Knox will be the first museum in the United States to use the product.
Museum visitors will be able to access the Albright-Knox’s tour through the Guidio app on Apple devices, including iPhones and iPods. Users can either follow a path presented in the app, which will lead them from one artwork to the next, or explore on their own. In both cases, content about select artworks will surface in the app as the user approaches the artworks, triggered by beacons placed near the works.
Audio content about the artworks will be available in English and Spanish, with specially designed content available for children and adults who are blind or partially sighted. Text-based content will also be available for the museum’s café, shop, and buildings.
This pilot project will be live from July through September 2015. During this time, the Albright-Knox will actively solicit feedback about users’ experiences with the app. The AK will synthesize and share this feedback with Guidio halfway through the pilot, in mid-August, and after the completion of the pilot, in early October, so that decisions can be made about how well the app is working for American audiences and what, if any, changes should be made to the framework of the app moving forward.In this case study presentation, I plan to share information about the planning and implementation of this pilot project, and how it was received by the Albright-Knox’s visitors. I will share an analysis of the feedback we collected from visitors who used the app, and the overall lessons that we learned from the project. I will also discuss whether I feel that the Guidio app is a good fit for other American museums to use in their own institutions, weighing the risk of using someone else’s technology against the significant cost savings that Guidio offers over custom-built solutions.