Beyond the audio guide: Why we use earpieces and projections

In a series of blog posts Hub Kockelkorn from Museon takes us behind the scenes of the first meSch enhanced exhibition ever to reveil how meSch technology was used. This is the second blogpost in the series. The previous blog post was about our expectations with regards to the use of smart replicas. This time we will learn why and how sound and projections were used in the meSch showcases at the exhibition ‘The Hague and the Atlantik Wall. City of War and Peace’.

Different perspectives as conversation starters

As described in the previous blog post, we will use a selection of replicated museum objects that are enhanced with sensors. We refer to them as smart replicas. Each different type of replica stands for a certain perspective from which the story of the Atlantic Wall will be told. The use of these replicas implies a clear choice: we do not want make it easy to switch perspectives during the visit.

replicas

Smart replicas are used to access an additional storyline in the exhibition. We expect it to enhance the visitor´s experience and involvement with the subject.

 

There are several reasons for this. Firstly, we expect a stronger impact when people stick to the same perspective during their visit, since a higher degree of identification will be reached. Another reason is born out of design constraints. The exhibition is located next to an exhibition about dinosaurs, which can be quite noisy. Also, the Atlantic Wall exhibition starts with an introduction movie. Because there is already quite some sound in and close to the exhibition, we decided not to use sound speakers for meSch but earpieces instead. The disadvantage may be clear: listening to the sound clips cannot be a group experience, especially since there will only be one earpiece at each meSch point – the exhibition’s design does not allow more than one earpiece at most locations. But the showcases with meSch technology could function as conversation starters in a different way. We hope that offering different perspectives to different members of a visiting group will encourage them to compare the different storylines they experience, thus enhancing the impact of the exhibition visit.

Some testing in the exhibition space

Some testing in the exhibition space. A replica of a mug is on the meSch point and has triggered sound and video.

Projections instead of screens
We made another choice, based on one of meSch´s goals: to achieve engagement with the real object. We could have installed a screen at every meSch point in the exhibition to display the photographs and videoclips that support the sound. Screens however would separate the additional storyline from the museum objects that it is related to. Instead we chose for projections on the glass of the showcase next to the objects, keeping the object central within the story. Will this also stimulate visitors to dive into the additional storyline? Will it contribute to the immersivity of the experience? We are looking forward to the results of the extensive evaluation activities that will be carried out in the exhibition to find out whether these assumptions are correct.

The Atlantic Wall exhibition under construction

The Atlantic Wall exhibition under construction

Stay tuned…

There is yet more to tell! For instance that visitors get a personalized data souvenir after their visit with which they can add content to an online component of the exhibition that leads them out of the museum and into the city. Read all about it in the 3rd blogpost in this series: ‘After the visit: Will a personalized exhibition souvenir lead to user generated content?’