April 11-14, 2007
San Francisco, California

Sessions: Abstract

Gaining Traction in the Vaseline: Visitor Response to a Multi-Track Interpretive Approach to Matthew Barney: DRAWING RESTRAINT   go to paper

Peter Samis, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA

What impact does having an array of interpretive content - both analog and digital - have on the visitor experience? What kinds of interpretive content do museum visitors prefer to use? Which kinds of help do visitors appreciate in order to have meaningful experiences with complex works of art? Findings are presented from the 2006 Randi Korn & Associates evaluation of interpretive media used in the Matthew Barney: DRAWING RESTRAINT exhibition, which included audio tours in three formats, an exhibition brochure, and an in-gallery 'Learning Lounge' with video, multimedia kiosk, books, and wall graphics.

The device-independent audio tour was the result of a first-of-its-kind collaboration between SFMOMA, Antenna Audio, and Guide by Cell in which the same audio content (developed by Antenna) was presented on Antenna's Gallery Xplorer, available at no additional cost with the Museum's permanent collection tour; as a free podcast or download from the Museum's Web site; and finally, for those who had arrived in the disorienting landscape of Barney's sculptures without prior preparation, via just-in-time phone calls to Guide by Cell's server.

The results of the Randi Korn study are detailed and augmented by statistics on usage patterns for the Barney Learning Lounge, which mixed analog and digital resources. The conclusion summarizes implications of this research for museum interpretive strategies moving forward.

Session: Evaluation II [Users]

Keywords: visitor studies, analog/digital, audio guides, cell phone tours, podcasting, learning lounges, on-site visitor support