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Google Indoor Maps – would it be useful for museums?

After talking a bit about map/floor plans for the museum, suddenly this came about. Is it a premonition? or do I work for Google? (No, I wish though)

Before you get too excited, like everything that Google does it always starts in US, so at the moment it is not yet available for other parts of the world. Would it ever be?  Google blog said this:

And this is just the start–we’ll continually add new indoor maps to public buildings across the world.

So, hopefully soon.

I think about all the museums I have been in, quite a few are housed in old buildings which has been modified or even was design to have different rooms, passages etc, almost like a labyrinth. I have heard staff would comment “This place is like rabbit warren, it is confusing so I better walk you through”. I have heard similar comments about going to IKEA “You are always lost in an IKEA, they make you go through everything just to find the pillow” and then another would say “ooh, but there is always a secret way in the middle where you can cut through”. So I think if IKEA is using it, museums could definitely make a use of it.

After all it adds having this floor plan will help with

  1. Increasing accessibility
  2. Perhaps cutting back the amount of printed maps = more considerate to the environment

I can see however, that it might scare some people off as it did with Google maps about privacy and security.  Also there are museums that are located in secluded areas or has underground galleries, so I wonder whether the app would work in these places. What do you think about this? What other use would this map have? Perhaps when planning an exhibition/events?

Digital Media Empowerment in Museums

This talk by Chris Bangle at one of Creative Morning London made me think about museums and audiences, and museum marketing professional and digital media.

He talked about empowerment, encouraging designers to allow development through empowering others. Not to just feed others with good design but allowing others to design. I think museums have been doing a lot of  this through engagements with their audiences; young people, families, etc

Projects for example allowing young people to choose objects for our exhibitions, arts project encouraging local community  and many more.

But then he talked about designers being the ELITE, that there is a sense of ELITIST that only those who have gone through a design degree could design, etc. That 2000 years ago only the elite could read and write, therefore only a few could access information.

The museums world used to be elitist, that only white, upper middle class, well-educated people dwell in this world. Not anymore of course, there are many programmes museums do to encourage diversity for example the Museum Association – Diversify; a programme that offers people from ethnic minorities, from less affluent backgrounds, or with disabilities bursaries to study museums studies, and other similar programmes run to encourage this empowerment.

Which are brilliant, and so much of what Chris Bangle said that the Museums world have commendably actually done in empowering others.

However, are we still Elitist in terms of knowledge, knowledge of the digital media specially? Looking through discussions about museums and digital media it has been the same people or people from the same area of work (marketing, audience development). Have we shared enough with others? Have we encouraged/empowered others in our museums to use digital media in their work? Have we shared our knowledge to other museums that has less, in terms of budget and time? After all, are we not in world of openness, where crowdsourcing, open-source is common? Why are we not treating this knowledge the same way?

How many of us could say honestly that the other teams in our museums or even the director understands about the importance and the workings of digital media? How many people in your museum knows about the wonderous Hootsuite or QR codes or PPC campaigns? Do you they need to know?

It would be good to know whether you are sharing with others in your museum. If you are how do you do it? I find it rather difficult as some people has the tendency to block off digital things because they think its to complicated. Do let me know by leaving a comment below.