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Labs
portrait of Nicholas Jarrett

Nicholas Jarrett

Marketing Campaign Manager , Europeana Foundation

portrait of Anders Sundnes Løvlie

Anders Sundnes Løvlie

Associate Professor , IT University of Copenhagen

The GIFT project: Give visitors the tools for deeper engagement

At the Europeana Foundation, we’re really excited to be involved in the GIFT project as part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Over the next few weeks, we'll be presenting you with some of the exciting developments coming out of the project. We start with an introduction from the Principle Investigator, Anders Sundnes Løvlie.

main image

GIFT app test at Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton - Charlie Johnson

2018

England

CC BY-SA
GIFT app test at Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton

Doing digital is hard

'Why do we fail digitally?' This was the title of a recent seminar for Norwegian museums at the Munch Museum in Oslo. But let’s be honest: a seminar with this title could have been held anywhere in Europe. Doing digital is hard, for museums as for other sectors of society. The GIFT project is a Horizon 2020 research project aimed at helping museums overcome some of the challenges involved in using digital technology to facilitate meaningful and engaging visitor experiences. 

We take an experience design perspective: instead of putting the technology first, we start with the needs of the museum and their visitors. We are developing an open-source experience design framework stemming from an ongoing, cross-disciplinary research project involving artists, designers, curators, museum educators, computer scientists and 18 museums in Europe and the U.S. The framework is currently available as an ‘open beta’, and is intended to be useable by a single museum professional with few resources.

The framework aims to facilitate in-house, practitioner-led design of hybrid and interpersonal experiences, in which mixed-reality technologies are used to augment or expand the experience of a visitor in the museum, and in which visitors use these technologies to share their experience with their ‘strong-tie’ connections (family and loved ones). As such, the framework facilitates sharing in a much more intimate sense than the larger-scale sharing that is typically facilitated through regular social media such as Facebook or Instagram.

GIFT app test at Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton - Charlie Johnson

2018

England

CC BY-SA

Practical approach

The GIFT Framework is based on extensive collaboration in a number of smaller sub-projects between university researchers, artists, designers and museum professionals. The participation and generous sharing of time, effort and insights throughout the project from our friends in museums has been invaluable. The project has engaged with museums in three different ways:

  1. A few museums have been hosts for pilot cases, such as Brighton Museum and the Museum of Yugoslavia, providing real-life laboratories for design work led by artists and designers in the project.

  2. A group of ten museums in Europe and the U.S. have engaged in a structured action research process aimed at building their capacity for facilitating hybrid experiences - as well as informing the design and development of the GIFT framework.

  3. Finally, a number of external museum partners - such as Tate Modern and University of Nottingham Museum of Archaeology - have taken the tools developed by GIFT and applied them in their local context, offering test cases and insights about how the tools work when applied outside the project. 

In a series of upcoming news posts from the GIFT project on Europeana Pro, we will present some of these sub-projects. In this post, we will focus primarily on the GIFT framework.

GIFT app test at Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton - Charlie Johnson

2018

England

CC BY-SA

The GIFT Framework

The GIFT Framework offers a collection of tools, design guidelines and best practice recommendations extracted from our practical and theoretical research. We offer a collection of ‘experience prototyping tools’ that support prototyping of user experiences without requiring deep technical knowledge. These tools include:

Gift exchange app: Based on a pilot project about digital gifting, we have created a generalised tool that allows any museum to experiment with digital gift experiences. This is a web app that works for both iOS and Android devices, with open-source code that can be downloaded and adapted to the museum’s needs. 

Artcodes: Artcodes is a system for creating visual scannable markers (similar in functionality to QR codes) that can be directly designed and even hand-drawn by users by following a set of drawing rules, so that they can take on bespoke and aesthetic forms, e.g. in order to fit the aesthetic of a museum exhibition. The markers can be connected to digital assets, wrapped up as an experience and shared with others. Users can open up others’ experiences and appropriate them by mapping them to their own weblinks, before resharing. Artcodes runs on both iOS and Android.

Scannerbox (coming soon): Can museum visitors contribute to a museum collection, with their own personal objects? Scannerbox is a do-it-yourself (DIY) toolkit that makes it easy for museums to set up public scanning booths where visitors can bring along and digitise their own artefacts alongside capturing stories about their personal meaning. Visitors can then donate their scanned objects and stories to the museum, allowing the 3D models to be published and shared online, and reused in virtual and augmented reality experiences.

The One Minute Experience: Object recognition technology has made it possible to offer visitor experiences described as 'Shazam for art': the phone's camera recognises the objects in the museum and offers information about them. However, an easily overlooked challenge is the design of the information that is offered. The One Minute Experience offers an authoring tool that helps museum communicators write short, engaging texts suited for smartphone screens, which have a greater chance of being read and understood by museum visitors.  

Museum ideation cards: This tool supports ideation — the early stages of generating and developing designs. These ideation cards encapsulate the design and technical knowledge from the project and encourage museum designers to consider intended audiences, institutional goals and constraints. Furthermore, we are developing a generalised ideation capture tool that will capture the results of ideation and design sessions using the ideation cards, and so allow participants to reflect on the variety of theories, concepts and technologies that they have engaged with and compare their designs with those of others.

GIFT app test at Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton - Charlie Johnson

2018

England

CC BY-SA

What’s next?

We are continuing to work on and test the framework and sub-projects and you will be able to read about these in more detail here throughout July and into August. We’ll also be showcasing these projects on Wednesday 27 November at Europeana 2019 where you can hear more about GIFT and test the experiences. Simply select ‘GIFT @ Europeana 2019’ when booking your ticket and we look forward to meeting you there.

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