Museums have always struggled to make their exhibits more interesting to people who may not know the history behind a specific exhibit. Whether they are art, history or other types of museum, in the past they have often had little more than a paragraph on a plaque to explain the exhibit. If you didn’t already have knowledge on the subject you would usually not have an appreciation for the exhibit. This was the case until the introduction of QR codes.
QR codes have the ability to drive traffic and help uneducated visitors learn and improve the overall experience by allowing museum goers to access helpful information. However, this means of educating and entertaining people isn’t as easy as it may seem, which has lead to some shortcomings and skepticism. The technology may not be presently perfect but it is being improved every day.
Instead of simply having the QR code direct a person to an article or written source on the subject, they should be directed to an interactive website, a video or an audio tour of the exhibit featuring the particular item. QR codes can provide each visitor with their own private tour of the museum.
The combining of entertainment and education keeps museum visitors engaged and interested far beyond what they otherwise would be with only a plaque to describe the item or exhibit. This gives people the full value of what a museum represents, somewhere to not only look at an object but to learn about it and what it represents.
Several museums around the world have begun using the QR code technology to improve their visitor’s experience. Some have developed the technology much better than others, but the overall experience is headed in the right direction. A few great examples of the technology being used for optimal benefit include The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Smithsonian Natural History Museum and The Bologna Museum of Archeology, along with several other Italian museums.
Both The Cleveland Museum of Art and The Bologna Museum of Archeology have begun using QR codes to allow visitors to be taken on an audio and video guided tour of specific galleries and exhibits or the entire museum. This technology has greatly enhanced the museum’s impact as well as the visitor’s experience.
The Smithsonian Natural History Museum has used QR codes in various ways, however, one very creative use is a part of the Neanderthals exhibit. When a visitor scans the code, they are sent to a landing page where they can upload a photo of themselves which the site then turns into a picture of how they would look as Neanderthals, 30,000 years in the past.
There are all kinds of creative ways museums can use QR codes to drive traffic and improve the overall experience of their visitors. However, the keyword here is “creative”, the QR code is only as good as the media it is linked to.