Museums and the Web 2005
Screen Shot: Visite+ Records

Reports and analyses from around the world are presented at MW2005.

Cultural Visit Memory: The Visite+ System Personalization and Cultural Visit Tracking Site

Roland Topalian, Cité des Sciences et de l’industrie, Paris, France


The Interactivity and Multimedia Department at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie has developed, in close association with the Laboratoire Communication, Culture et Société (C2SO) at the École Normale Supérieure, Lyon, a system of visit personalization called Visite+. We propose the creation of a personal Web site (a cyberlog of the visit) for all visitors, providing them with a record of their paths at the exhibition, their results at activities (photos, quizzes, etc.), and complete exhibition contents and complementary resources (documents, dossiers, links, etc.). Visitors can access all of their visits on a single portal. The aim is to free visitors from some of the spatial and temporal constraints involved in museum visits, and to do so in a way that corresponds to a number of clearly identified expectations and practices (preparing visits; bringing some of the contents home to reduce the ephemeral, accidental dimension of the visit; reliving, verifying, and sharing the visit experience; making full use of visits in classrooms for teachers, etc.). The system enables the museum to considerably strengthen its relationship with its public using an innovative basis that consists of accompanying visitors in their personal practices.

After three years of experimentation, during which time 104,000 Web sites have been created for nearly 100,000 visitors, we at the Cité have learned a number of lessons that we would like to share with others. We are interested in broadening the network of cultural institutions proposing a personalized approach like Visite+. Grouping institutions interested in this approach on a single platform would enable us to shift the focus from the individual institution to individual visitors and their cultural practices, which include a variety of institutions. The aim of this platform is to foster exchanges between professionals and create a portal of participating institutions. In this way visitors can access their personalized Visite+ cyberlogs from each institution’s site and find an ongoing record of their path in all participating museums; and institutions can tailor their offer to a public made up exclusively of exhibition visitors.

Keywords: marketing, personalization, visit, innovation, post-visit

Project Background

The Visite+ project began with a feasibility study commissioned in June 2000 by the General Management at La Cité in the framework of the three-year "Challenges of the Living World" exhibition series. The objectives of the project are:

  • Guidance: data collection on visitor profiles and expectations, orientation and follow-up in the museum's site memorization of the visit, marketing evaluation and development, improving visitor loyalty
  • Museology: personalization of exhibition path, novel interactions
  • Resource offer: deliver content adapted to each visitor.

The conception of the project relied on more than ten years of joint work on the status and role of exhibition visitors conducted by the university research team, the Laboratoire Communication, Culture et Society (C2SO) at the University Ecole Normale Supérieure. This collaboration allowed us to integrate knowledge concerning visitor expectations and visit practices from the very beginning.

After the feasibility study, some of the first elements prefiguring the Visite+ system were implemented for the Man Transformed exhibition in November 2001. Visitors could register at interactive kiosks to receive personalized newsletters featuring updates on subjects of their choice. This monthly newsletter was sent to their personal email address.

The initial commission had a strong technological thrust. The management departments that had commissioned the project – the Direction Générale and the Direction de la Prospective – imagined the use of a PDA as an exhibition exploration tool able to provide innovative visit experiences, encouraging visitor interaction with the environment and with individual exhibits, data exchange between visitors, registration for services, purchases, etc.

As with any project that extends over a long period of time, unexpected developments occurred between the initial conception and the final product delivered to the institution. In this case, a lot of hopes were initially pinned on the appearance of powerful PDAs offering very long battery life and unfailing connectivity, associated with industrial robustness and a simple, flexible, and efficient operating system enabling user geolocalization. Clearly our expectations were excessive insofar as these criteria were concerned. Other aspects were underestimated, such as the need for extensive communication (with exhibition project managers, and with the institution and finally with visitors), and the existence and use of brand new services relying on very recent technologies (in 2000, the use of Internet in French households was still not very widespread).

The project was reoriented on a much more practical basis to concentrate on offering new applications made possible by a variety of recent technologies. Instead of centering the system on the PDA, we devised a global information system capable of generating personalized visit tracking together with post-visit services accessible on the Web for home and classroom use. These included a recreation of the visit experience on a personal Web site plus access to a variety of other features in the form of electronic documents sent by mail to visitors who sign up for them.

This approach seemed more suitable since it allowed us to break the project into parts without running the risk of having nothing workable to propose in the end. In addition, it met expectations expressed by visitors through surveys, notably their desire to access the contents of the exhibition after their actual visit.

In terms of marketing, our aim was to create an environment that would enable us to know our visitors better so as to enhance the pertinence of the information and services we offer them.

This method of personalization is very different from traditional methods of segmentation based on target publics. These are personalized only in a very metaphorical sense. Here, the offer itself is personalized, making it possible to position each visitor in two respects: individually, as a function of interests and practices, and categorically as a member of the museum's public

For the institution, Visite+ is, of course, a very effective tool in developing visitor loyalty (since it prompts visitors to come back to the museum and thereby promotes our exhibitions). It is also a tool in achieving a wider aim: to facilitate and promote cultural visit practices in general.

Visite+ offers a truly user-focused, rather than product-focused, approach.

Aspects of the Conceptual Approach

Visite+ provides an array of services, each feature of which fulfills its own specific function while also contributing to the overall aim of building a long-term relationship between the institution and individual visitors. Visite+ marks a significant change in the field of museum communication. The way the system links the exhibition to the Web to allow users to follow up on their actual visit experience and learn more is not so much a technical innovation as an innovation in use and Museology combined (cf. Dédale, 2004).

The roots of the project

Visitor Status

Observing a change in the expectations formulated by visitors vis-à-vis our institution (particularly on the occasion of exhibitions of the science and society type when they expressed the desire to air their viewpoints) led us to effect a change in the status we gave to them. We began to develop increasingly empirical methods that encourage visitors to become active participants and ultimately mediators of their own thought rather than passive receivers of messages transmitted by the institution in its role as mediator. (Le Marec and Topalian 2004, Le Marec 2004)

The extensive experience we have had since 1980 in designing interactives in the museum's Interactivity and Multimedia Department and the great many visitor surveys conducted since the Cité des Sciences opened in 1986 helped us conceive and implement a novel type of visit that could never have come into being without the us of Internet tools. When you start working on developing objects of interactive mediation, communication schemes based on transmitting knowledge to visitors do not work anymore. It is through dialogue, diversion, and play that visitors actively acquire knowledge.

Fostering Studious Applications

From the start, the Cité des Sciences offered visitors ways to find out more about the content presented in the exhibition (via resource areas where they can consult books, articles, databases, and the like, but also via additional information in the interactive exhibits themselves).

It is notoriously difficult, however, for visitors to find time during their actual visit for both discovering the exhibition in general and finding out more about specific aspects of it. In addition, trends in exhibition design are changing: they are becoming more and more spectacular and immersive. The spatial, visual, acoustic, and even social (family or group) conditions in the museum do not lend themselves to an assiduous pursuit of learning.

To maintain the exhibition's function of furthering knowledge in a studious environment, new tools need to be implemented to free exhibitions to provide visitors with an experience of experimentation and discovery and shift the focus of studious activities to a more suitable environment. This is the aim of linking up the exhibition with a Web site containing the cyberlog of each visitor's visit.

Personal Access For Visitors Who Are Not Internauts

What editorial status do we give to the post-visit on the Web? We have always advocated a direct link between the two mediation tools: the exhibition and the Web. For this reason, we did not intend to create a virtual exhibition accessible to all internauts, or a thematic site unrelated to the exhibition. Our aim was to make the entire exhibition available to actual visitors to the museum without revealing it to internauts who had not visited it, so as to maintain the excitement of discovery in the actual visit to the museum.

The post-visit on the Web takes the form of a private personal Web site reserved for exhibition visitors. This site features almost all of the exhibition contents, along with an array of additional services.

The System Of Personalization

Identifiers in the exhibition

To generate a computerized record of a visit to an exhibition requires a visitor identification system. Among the experiments that had been conducted at the time were the London Science Museum's Wellcome Wing, which had used fingerprints to identify visitors, and the Experimentarium in Copenhagen, which had used tags with antenna to read visitor cards.

A number of criteria factored into the choice of identifiers: non-redundance, legibility after intensive use, low production costs, ease of use and implementation (creation or reading). The identification device must not (or practically not) disturb the visit and must be adaptable to meet changes over time.

Fingerprints offer the clear advantage of being readily available, and they eliminate the need to make identifiers especially for the purpose. The downside is that automatic recognition of digital fingerprints does not work for a hundred percent of the visitors, and this causes some inconvenience. In addition, the use of biometric identifiers raises privacy concerns (the CNIL, the National Commission on Computers and Civil Liberties in France, would probably not have licensed such a system). For these reasons, we decided against them. Another option was RFID tags, or contactless smart cards, but because of the high cost of the tags, they would have had to be reused, and doing so involved numerous complications

We ultimately opted for a system of information and visit tracking that is not dependant on a specific type of identifier. We did this by shifting the recognition interface to the exhibition set up, thereby making it possible to use the Visite+ system as soon as a visitor has been provided with a unique identifier.

For the first exhibition using the Visite+ system, we opted for the bar code as identifier.

The Visite+ Experience So Far

Visite+ has two parts: the management system for personalized services and the services proposed to visitors.

The Management System For Personalized Services

Visite+ is an integrated information system enabling personalized service management for visitors to the Cité des Sciences – that is to say, to people who have come to the museum for actual visits to exhibitions. Visite+ is the personalization core, the nexus of an array of services. It is designed with the capacity to adapt to the possibility of all sorts of personalized services that may appear over time.

The system creates a personal Web site for each visitor and manages personal data. Services can be selected by the visitors on their portals. To date, services supported by Visite+ include, on the one hand, access to the exhibition on the Web, and on the other, documents sent by email.

All of the features available to a visitor are coordinated using a library of tools that enable visitor tracking in the exhibition, data sharing, storage, and transfer between individual exhibits, exhibitions and the Web.

A Web Portal To Access Services 

The visitor's Web site is accessible on the Cité des Sciences Web site. There are two types of access: with registration and without (in both cases the service is free).

Visitors who choose not to register can access the cyberlog of their visit by entering their identifier (the ticket number, for instance). Visitors who register for membership log in (with their email address and name or nickname) to access the personalized services proposed by Visite+.

Screen Shot: Visite + Home Page

Fig1: Visite+ Home Page

The portal allows visitors to change their settings and choose from a variety of services (see below). They can register or consult their actual visits to La Cité. After a visit is saved, there is no further need to hold onto the visit code; the visits can be consulted by clicking on its icon along with all other saved visits to the Cité des Sciences.

Screen Shot: The visitor portal

Fig 2: The visitor portal: the My Visits tab features a list of actual visits to the Cité des Sciences.

Individualized Electronic Documents

Visite+ provides customized electronic information, including:

  • A Visitor newsletter for anyone who signs up for it. This monthly newsletter features announcements of events at La Cité and personalized updates on subjects chosen from a list of topics. This component of the project is an effective tool for keeping up extended contacts between visitors and the museum.
  • Complete exhibition dossiers. These feature exhibition texts and a wealth of bibliographical references and links. This document is not so much an exhibition catalogue as a complete collection of exhibition texts and an extensive bibliography for each of the topics treated in the exhibition. It is a printable document that is a useful tool not only for teachers but also for individuals who would like to find out more after their visit.
  • The College newsletter. This features conference programs and notification of new on-line conferences at the Cité des Sciences Web site.

Visit Management: Visit Tracking and the Cyberlog

Tracking visits in the exhibition allows us to personalize the experience, record the path followed by the visitor, and create a personal Web site.

The procedure typically works as follows: First, visitors are invited to insert their ticket into a Visite+ registration point, where they indicate their language preference, any disabilities, and enter their email address if they have one. From that point on, by using their ticket while exploring the exhibition, they will be automatically "recognized" by all interactive devices and addressed in the language that they have chosen. The Visite+ system records each access to an exhibit. Visitors can obtain this information whenever they desire at dedicated Visite+ points in the museum. They can also choose to save their results at quizzes for later consultation. In fact, Visite+ can store all multimedia activities; such as electronic votes in discussion groups, graphic and sound media, etc.

The cyberlog plays on the link between the exhibition and the Internet. Associated to the visit tracking, it enables visitors to go on-line and gain access through their own private Web portals to a dynamic presentation of their actual visits (their paths results at quizzes and games, multimedia creations). All of the subjects treated at the exhibition are presented, along with additional information that was not available in the framework of the exhibition. Examining this information requires the kind of studious conditions that are available at home, in the office, or in the classroom, but less so in the exhibition space. By moving an important part of the relevant additional information to the Web context, the exhibition can focus on prompting visitors to experiment and discover. This in turn allows for more leeway when it comes to exhibit and scenic design.

On their portals, visitors gain access to the complete contents of the exhibition, their interactions, and their quiz results compared to the results of other visitors. They also find services and features that are not available on the Cité des Sciences's public Web site, such as Behind the Scenes, a photographic look into the "making of" the exhibition, and an array of services for which they can sign up. The fact that these private Web sites are accessible only to actual visitors to the exhibition is capital because it allows visitors to follow up on their visit experiences without disclosing exhibition contents to internauts. In addition, private information that other visitors cannot access can be saved on this site.

Results, Evaluation And Visit Data

Different Implementation Strategies In The Exhibition

The Visite+ system can be used by exhibitions in three different ways:

  1. as a simple accompaniment during the visit, informing the way content is presented (language, disabilities, exhibits already accessed during the visit, results recorded, etc.)
  2. as a link between the actual visit and the post-visit experience on the Web (the path is transmitted to the Web site along with data saved during the visit)
  3. as a private Web site accessible only to visitors who actually come to the exhibition, but without visit tracking during the exhibition.

Four exhibitions using the Visite+ system and offering a visit/post-visit connection on the Web were created. The Innermost Brain in 2002 offered registration and visit tracking along with the possibility of following up the visit on a personal Web site. The entry ticket to the exhibition was used as an identifier. The second exhibition, That's Canada, which opened in December 2003, offered visit monitoring and a Web site, but no visitor registration. Visits to this exhibition required PDAs, distributed at the entrance to the exhibition; these served to identify the visitors and record their paths .The third exhibition, Operation Carbon, has cyberlogs created only for visitors who insert their tickets into a dedicated-Visite+ point. Neither visit tracking nor registration is provided. The most recent exhibition, The population of the world … and what about me ? which opened on April 8, 2005, provides for the creation of a Web site associated to the visit. The identifier used is a 'pass pop', a visit passport of sorts dedicated to this exhibition, used to record visitor information that the exhibition requires for use by individual exhibits and the cyberlog.

The different Visite+ setups correspond to different strategies, and result in different uses. To date, 104,000 personal Web sites tracking visits have been created, and they have generated a total of 70,000 hits.

Screen Shot: 104,000 personal Web sites in 3 years

Fig 3: 104,000 personal Web sites in 3 years

We can see that many more Web sites were created when visit monitoring was provided (The Innermost Brain in 2002 and That's Canada in 2003) than when it was not (Operation Carbon in 2004). On the other hand, the ratio between the number of cyberlogs created and the number accessed is constantly increasing. This testifies to the growing interest of visitors in these sites in particular and in Internet services in general.

The Innermost Brain Exhibition

Facts and Figures

  • First exhibition equipped with the Visite+ system:
  • identifier: exhibition entry ticket
  • 2 registration points (profile settings and registration for Visite+ services)
  • 23 exhibits recording visitor identifiers
  • running period: 9 months
  • 55,250 tracked visits
  • 14,100 cyberlogs accessed

Screen Shot: Visite+ Records

Fig 4: Visite+ Records expoid=1&q=visite&langue=en

Qualitative Assessment Of The Innermost Brain Exhibition

The following evaluation of the Visite+ system at The Innermost Brain exhibition was presented at the ICHIM meeting in 2003 at the Louvre

The Visite+ system used at the Innermost Brain exhibition was the object of two studies, a detailed visitor survey by Emmanuelle Gauzins, from the university research team, the Laboratoire Communication, Culture et Society (C2SO) at the University École Normale Supérieure, and a second more cursory evaluation for the Cité des Sciences's department of evaluations and future planning. We cannot enter into the details of the results here, but we think that three aspects are particularly worthy of note.

The first concerns identification difficulties in a system that includes a whole set of objects (entry ticket, Visite+ points, individual exhibits, associated website, subscription to the visitor newsletter, email communication to visitor homes, etc.) and extends over different periods in time (ticket purchase, entry to the exhibition, at different moments during the course of the visit, after the visit, etc.). The system is not a technological mechanism; it is a multifold global proposal that is free and therefore invisible for those whose attention will be drawn to offers by their conditions of access. For the system to be identifiable, it needs to be announced to visitors well ahead of their entry to the exhibition where it is being tested They must be notified that, under the cover of the seemingly commonplace bar code on their entry ticket, they are being offered access to an innovative service. This can be done eventually by changing the appearance of the ticket so that its new function becomes immediately legible.

The second concerns the functions that visitors attribute to a system that they cannot totally apprehend since the survey takes place in the exhibition. For this reason, we obtain more information on anticipated functions than on actual use, which will require several months before it can really be observed.

Functions attributed to the system are related to different visit styles that visitors will push along the lines of their own reasoning. Some visitors look forward to renewing the visit experience, in particular the sensations and impressions they had. Others, on the contrary, expect to be able to retrieve the informative "content" of the exhibition. These expectations designate and radicalize two dimensions of the visit.

The system is seen as lending itself to a more personal relationship, in a private space, to the subject of the exhibition: the possibility of sending home results on individual memory and perception tests taken in the exhibition is immediately perceived and commented [on].

Finally, some visitors look forward to sharing what they experienced in the exhibition in other social contexts (family, classrooms, etc.). Such unforeseen expectations are among the type of results that has nurtured for years the collaboration between design and research in its search for new modalities of communication in museums. le Marec, J. & R. Topalian (2003)

The many innovations brought by the system to institutional communication and the many resources provided to exhibition designers contribute to the creation of new applications offered to visitors who sometimes make use of the system in ways that its designers had not imagined.

That's Canada Exhibition

Facts And Figures

  • Identifier: PDA
  • 13 visit-recording points
  • Running period: 9 months
  • 47,726 tracked visits
  • 13,000 photos saved
  • 56,500 cyberlogs accessed

The visit to the That's Canada exhibition required a PDA. The limited number of available PDAs limited in turn the number of visitors to the exhibition.

Screen Shot: The PDA

Fig 5: The PDA

The PDA contained the visitors' identifiers and recorded their passage at different visit points: there were a total of 13 stop points corresponding to the exhibits.

Screen Shot: 'That's Canada' Home Page

Fig 6: 'That's Canada' Home Page &expoid=6&q=visite&langue=en

The entire contents of the texts, along with additional information, was presented on the visitor's Web site.

Visitors at the exhibition could take their pictures against a Canadian background, access the photos on their personal cyberlogs, and use them to make and send electronic postcards. This is a good example of how the exhibition can be linked to the visitor Web site. We observed a greater number of visits to That's Canada cyberlogs, no doubt because they fulfilled their role as exhibition relays.

Beyond questions of exhibition quality and features proposed on the cyberlog, we consider taking photos in the exhibition an excellent means of getting visitors to consult their visit cyberlogs.

Operation Carbon Exhibition

Facts And Figures

  • Identifier: entry ticket
  • 2 registration points
  • Running period: 9 months
  • 2,350 cyberlogs generated
  • 6,500 cyberlogs accessed

Screen Shot: 'Operation Carbon' Home Page

Fig 7: 'Operation Carbon' Home Page expoid=8&q=visite&langue=en

We offered a minimal version of Visite+ at this exhibition, without visit tracking or transfer of actual visit data from the exhibition to the Web. Access to the visit cyberlog was reserved to visitors who manifested their presence at the exhibition by inserting their entry ticket at a Visite+ registration point. The low number of registrations is due to the lack of visit tracking and the low visibility of the two registration points.

"The Population Of The World … And What About Me?" Exhibition

Facts And Figures

  • Identifier: "Pass pop" bar code on exhibition-dedicated ticket
  • 3 registration points for setting visitor profile
  • 6 stop points

Exhibition opening: April 6, 2005 "The population of the world … and what about me ?" exhibition includes three registration points where visitors indicate their language, age, and gender. Throughout the visit, these settings generate personalized feedback at individual exhibits, with respect to demographic statistics related to the visitor's profile. All of this information is saved to the cyberlog for consultation on the Internet.

Visite+ Today

A Permanent System At La Cité

Today, we regard the system installed at La Cité as permanent, and available for any exhibition that would like to use it. The information system has experienced no major failure. We have nevertheless implemented a number of changes that enhance its simplicity in terms of both visit tracking and Web site construction, and thus make it extremely cost-effective.

Conservation Of Visitor Sites

We first thought of the cyberlogs as the part of the project that enabled visitors to follow up on their visit from home and, to avoid having to manage an excessively large database, we were planning to keeping the Web sites for a month. It turned out that the 104,000 or so potential Web sites and about as many visitors did not place significant demands on our information system. We decided to broaden the initial cyberlog concept and make it into a memory site providing an ongoing record of visitors' activities at the Cité des Sciences.

For this purpose, we expanded the visitor portal to provide access to all of the visitors' cyberlogs.

A Flexible, Duplicable, And Marketable System

As a result of developments in languages and software derived from open source technologies, we now have an architecture based on a Unix-compatible operating system, which is written in Perl and Php and uses an Apache server and MySQL database programming. It is a package that we can offer to any museum that wishes to acquire it without having to deal with high license costs.

Because of the system's great simplicity, it can readily be installed at the institution or at a host. Performance is not significantly different in either case.

To lower cyberlog production costs, we have developed a generator tool that allows us to produce simple sites that satisfy 80% of functionalities, while leaving the door open to specific extensions such as pursuing a game started at the exhibition. Finding additional content for the cyberlog is not difficult either since only a portion of the content collected and considered during the development phase of the exhibition is actually presented. Very little work is required to organize and present this additional information on a visitor's cyberlog.

Benefits For Visitors

The Visite+ system allows visitors to follow up on their visits, share them with others, or find out more at home or in classrooms; they can consult their activities at the exhibition (photos, tests, etc.) and keep an ongoing record of all their activities at different exhibitions for future consultation. Teachers can visit the exhibition and use their cyberlogs in class to prepare a visit with students.

Benefits For Institutions

The system enables institutions to propose new forms of mediation, get to know their visitors better, enhance visitor loyalty, collect information about visitor paths, and promote their exhibitions. Exhibition attendance is also easy to calculate. For example, Figure 8 shows the Visite+ results (in thousands of visits) for the duration of the That's Canada exhibition. (This data can be viewed by day, week, or month.)

Screen Shot: That's Canada on Dec. 13

Fig 8: That's Canada on Dec. 13

Visite+ can also draw a diagram of visitor paths and enable us to see the places where most visitors go and the paths or path segments that are more commonly used.

Visite+ Tomorrow

The future includes pooling and sharing our experiences by creating an exchange network among institutions and between each institution and its cultural activities record

Creating A Network Of Institutions For Sharing Experiences

The studies we have conducted so far show that the implementation of this system gives visitors the opportunity to invent novel applications for it, notably relational (e.g. sharing their activities with friends and family), and to formulate new expectations. To meet these, we would like to broaden the network of cultural institutions proposing a personalized approach like Visite+.

Designing exhibitions that use a system of personalization and linking visits with an associated Web site is a slow process that needs to be continually evaluated and adapted. Each new exhibition is a new experience, bringing its share of innovations, knowledge, and expertise. We think that sharing our experiences in this area will be a strong plus in promoting this museological concept based on a close relationship between institution and visitor, and between the visit and post-visit experience. But we do not think that merely disseminating this approach is enough.

A Common Platform For Visitors

We devised Visite+ to bring the relationship with the visitor into a temporal continuity that encompasses both the personalized visit with activities in the museum and the post-visit experience outside the exhibition context. But we are persuaded that a truly visitor-dedicated approach should provide the public with a record of their visits without being dependent on one particular cultural institution. Such a personalization approach, bringing together services around the visitor, will not really make sense until the institutional logic of visitor appropriation gives way to a truly user-based approach. We think that visitors have much to gain from cultural institutions joining to create a common personalized site dedicated to each visitor's cultural practices. By getting together on a common platform with other museums interested in this approach, we could effectively shift the focus from the individual institution and what it has to offer to the individual visitor and his or her cultural activities.

The principle of Visite+ is to propose a post-visit Web portal dedicated to exhibition visitors. This means that all offers will only concern actual cultural institution visitors. We know that people who regularly go to one cultural site will visit others. We also know that cultural visit practices cover a wide range of cultural institutions (there is no 'monomania' in the choice of institutions). Finally, visit practices are not confined to a single geographical area: people who visit museums where they live also visit museums when they are on vacation in a different region or country.

The Interest For Visitors

With a common Visite+ Web portal, users would be able to access records of all of their visits to any of the partner institutions from the site of any partner institution. So instead of going to different sites and having to log in each time with a different identifier and password, visitors would be provided with permanent access to all of their visits from a single site that keeps an ongoing record of their paths in different museums.

For Cultural Institutions

Cultural institutions could promote their exhibitions on this personal visitor portal with links to their public Web sites. In this way, they could reach a public made up of visitors to cultural institutions. They would also benefit from synergies between museums (thematic links, access to resources, etc.)

Next Steps

We propose the creation of a personal Web site (a cyberlog of the visit) for all visitors, providing them with a record of their paths at the exhibition, their results at activities (photos, quizzes, etc.), and complete exhibition contents and complementary resources (documents, dossiers, links, etc.). Visitors could access all of their visits on a single portal.

A common visitors Web portal can be easily and readily implemented by sites using the Visite+ system, but we are interested in making all sites accessible regardless of the system chosen. This requires defining specifications for a common interface for our different systems (each institution can have its own system of visit personalization) with all the Internet links that will enable users to consult their visits.

The aim is to free visitors from some of the spatial and temporal constraints involved in museum visits, and to do so in a way that corresponds to a number of clearly identified expectations and practices, such as preparing visits; bringing some of the contents home to reduce the ephemeral, accidental dimension of the visit; reliving, verifying, and sharing the visit experience; and making full use of visits in classrooms for teachers.


Dédale (2004) 'Les usages des multimédias culturels, Les institutions européennes dans leurs rôle de nouveaux environnements d'apprentissage', Culture et recherche n°102, ministère de la culture

Goldstein, B., J. Le Marec, R. Topalian, S. Pouts-Lajus (1996). Interactifs : fonctions et usages dans les musées, Paris : Direction des Musées de France.

le Marec, J. & R. Topalian (2003). Le rôle des technologies dans les relations entre institutions et les publics : peut-on (vraiment) innover en matière de communication ? International Cultural Heritage Informatics Meeting ICHIM 2003

Le Marec, J. & R. Topalian R(2003a). Enonciation plurielle et publication de la parole du public en contexte muséal : le cas de ‘la tribune des visitors’ Communication et Langages, 138.

Le Marec, Joelle and Roland Topalian (2004) Enonciation plurielle et publication de la parole du public en contexte muséal : le cas de 'la tribune du visitor'. Communication et langages N° 135 . Armand Colin

Le Marec, Joelle (2004) Les études d’usage des multimédias en milieu culturel : une évolution des questions. Culture et recherche N° 102 . Armand Colin :

Cite as:

Topalian, R., Cultural Visit Memory: The Visite+ System Personalization and Cultural Visit Tracking Site, in J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Web 2005: Proceedings, Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics, published March 31, 2005 at