Apps for museums: a social media project

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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, June 2017

Literature review

  • what have other archivists or librarians done on this topic; other archives or libraries?
  • each team member will review two articles which discuss the recent boom in mobile apps for cultural institution. We are looking at examples from all over the world including the United States, Canada, South Korea and Malta.

Discussion of project timelines/deadlines

  • What will you produce or deliver (e.g., deliverables), costs/budget at the end of the proposal?

This process will take six months including concept design, photo editing and creation and implantation. We are working with My Orpheo which it a business that focuses on building mobile applications for cultural heritage sites around the world. A few other museum they have worked with include the Quai Branly Museum, Swiss Camera Museum and Grand Central Station. We will work with them over the course of six months to develop social network sharing and interactive maps. My Orpheo was a natural choice for the Museum of Vancouver to work with thanks to their impressive client list, experience developing content for ISO and Android, as well as their ability to work with in our time frame.

Conclusion (how will this project grow in the future? how will you assess it annually? how will you know you are successful?)

This project is set to premiere at the end of September. We hope to have writers from Vancouver press agency come to document the premier of our app which will hopefully coordinate with "back to school" activities. The project relies on technology with can rapidly evolve. In order to stay on top of changing technology and to keep our application up to date,we will work with My Orpheo to review the application once every six months after it's premier. We may to to make minor updates but the major of the app should stay consistent.

We hope that this application will create more dialogue surrounding the exhibits at the Museum of Vancouver. We hope to reach out to our community and join in the conversation online with cultural institutions all over the world.


For our final project, we wanted to design a museum app that would enhance the interactivity of exhibits and increase the social engagement of visitors. The Museum of Vancouver, a favourite among tourists and locals alike, was a natural fit for this assignment. Our goal was to create an app that allowed visitors, both in person and online, to tailor their visit to suit their own needs. “Customized tours allow visitors to pick and choose exhibits, creating tour routes that suit their interests and schedules” (Tsai and Sung 95).

Overview of our app

Our app allows visitors to experience an enhanced virtual tour of the Museum of Vancouver. Visitors can see a floor plan of the museum and zoom in on rooms to tour a specific exhibit. Each exhibit can be tagged, rated, and shared by visitors to create a user-generated guide to the museum. Users also have the option to input their preferred tags and search pre-designed routes through the museum customized for them.


  • Griggs, Kim. "Geotagging Digital Collections: Beaver Tracks Mobile Project." Computers in Libraries 31.2 (2011): 17-20. Web.

This article discusses the concept of geotagging digital collections, using the "BeaverTracks Historical Locations and Walking Tour," a project from Oregon State University, as an example. Users of this app can search for buildings and historical sites on the university campus and get "a brief history and browse a catalog of historic images" (17), images they have pulled from the university's archives. After giving a brief overview of the BeaverTracks app, the author provides a short summary of other cultural institutions and the various approaches to apps they have taken. One of the most interesting concepts the article raises is that of in-situ learning, which is "a teaching pedagogy that believes meaningful learning will only take place if it is embedded in the social and physical context within which it will be used" (17). This reinforced the importance of giving our app a physical context, ie., an interactive app.

  • Im, Dong Uk, Hak Ro Yoon, and Jae Yeong Lee. "A Case Study of the Walking Trail Applications on GPS-based Smartphone Using the Local Narrative."

This paper was written by a team from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Kangwon National University, both located in South Korea. The paper is investigating the combination of GPS smartphones and tourism applications. South Korea is going through a large trend in the consumption of “well-being” projects, this paper is looking at the rise of walking paths and the development of their applications. The role a smartphone can play in a spiritual walk is that of “narrative storytelling”. The process of “Concept - Content - Storytelling - Consumer - Context “is completed when the user share or documents their experience. The addition of storytelling capability’s to standard information makes the application more immersive and more likely to share with friends. This paper looks at the theory behind tourism applications and their link to memory.

  • Boiano, Stefania, Jonathan P. Bowen, and Giuliano Gaia. "Usability, Design and Content Issues of Mobile Apps for Cultural Heritage Promotion: The Malta Culture Guide Experience." arXiv preprint arXiv:1207.3422 (2012).

This paper looks at the development of a mobile app to serve the island of Malta’s tourism board. The paper examines the pros and cons of different areas of use for a cultural application. Taking the works of usability researcher Jakob Nielsen into account they decided on building a mobile application instead of only opening their website to mobile phone users. While mobile applications are more expensive and take longer to develop, they can make better use of the devices abilities. This was one of the design team’s major goals while designing the application. Make use of the abilities on the device and keep the content interactive. The team created textual explanations as short as possible as mobile devices are more difficult to read and understand on then laptops. For this reason images also need to be high resolution with a zoom function. Audio and video materials are ideal for cultural applications but the paper warns us that it is easy to exceed size restrictions with such additions. The most important aspect of this application was the map. Users of their application will be most likely form out country and therefore it was important to provide both online and offline access.

The paper on The Malta Culture Guide is a concise, well researched resource. The observations brought up in this paper will prove to be valuable when designing our mobile app for the Vancouver Museum. The map for the city would be shrunk to that of a city but the concepts remain the same.

  • Tsai, Henry and Kelvin Sung. "Mobile Applications and Museum Visitation." IEEE Internet Computing 45 (2012): 95-98. Web.

This is a short article that discusses museums' usage of mobile applications for enhancing the visitor experience. The authors frame this discussion in the context of the growing importance of technology in engaging patrons and enriching a museums' exhibits; "“The current trend is to integrate technology in general, and mobile applications specifically, as part of the museum visitation experience” (95). The article has a highly positive slant, extolling the virtues of including mobile technology as a standard museum feature. Features such as interactive maps and tours in augmented reality allow visitors to customize, and thereby enhance, their museum experience (95). This was an interesting and useful article, particularly for informing the rationale for our own app . It reinforced many of the ideas we had already had with regard to developing our own app, most notably that “interaction with the exhibits, as well as communication and social interaction between visitors, are key to building a successful museum learning experience” (97).

Breakdown of components

  • Rationale - Rebekah
  • History of 'mobility in museums' - Katie Hughes
  • Written overview of our app - Rebekah
  • Floorplan - Katie K
  • Prezi Education - Katie K
  • Outline - Katie K
  • Lit Review - Everyone
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