No Country App-Based Multimedia Guide
Randi Korn & Associates was contracted to conduct an evaluation of a multimedia guide application (app) for the exhibition No Country, part of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s UBS MAP Global Art Initiative.
How did we approach this study?
RK&A conducted in-depth interviews with three subsets of museum visitors to the No Country exhibition: 40 interviews with visitors who used the app (app users), 20 interviews with visitors who did not use the app (non-app users), and 10 interviews with visitors who viewed the film program (theater users). Findings from this evaluation are intended to help the Guggenheim determine how visitors perceived and used the app, understand why some visitors chose not to use the app, and identify ways in which the app contributed to visitors’ experiences of the No Country exhibition and related film program.
What did we learn?
Among the app users, most visitors liked the app because it contributed to their understanding of the works of art and encouraged them to view works closely and for an extended period of time. App users, however, were not extensive in their exploration of the app, with about one-half using the app solely as an audio guide as opposed to using the app-based features like swiping and zooming. From among the functions available on the app, app users most often used the adult audio tour, the more information button, and the audio transcripts. Among non-app users, about one-half explained that they chose not to use the app because they preferred a self-directed experience, and about one-third said they were unaware of the app’s existence.
What are the implications of the findings?
Findings suggest that there are some notable benefits to using the app. For example, when both app users and non-app users were asked to recall details about a work of art, app users more frequently remembered concrete details about the message the work was intended to convey than non-app users. However, the fact that app users primarily used the app as an audio guide raises the question about the best use of apps in museums. While visitors were primarily interested in audio material which complemented their visual experience with the artwork, the Guggenheim may need to consider how best to take advantage of the unique opportunities that the app medium can provide. Based on the responses of non-app users and theater users, the Guggenheim might also want to consider raising further awareness about the app. Visitors were not always aware of its existence and several had misconceptions about the app’s cost and if it required owning a smart phone.