3 ways to integrate data for a smarter museum

Written by Dr Greg Turner
Published on 25 January 2018

About the author

Greg has been building websites for 17 years. He is an interaction designer and computer scientist specializing in emerging forms of interaction. A founding member of the Interaction Consortium, he is currently the CTO of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

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In the past few months, our GLAMkit users have been doing us proud, using GLAMkit to underpin parts of the visitor experience beyond their websites. Because so much information flows through the website, GLAMkit provides opportunities to integrate data and push it to new places.

1. Multi-screen information boards

Museums already use GLAMkit to serve single-screen 'what's on today' displays in lobbies.

In itself that's a helpful function. Without GLAMkit, creating a ‘what’s on today’ display needs to be done manually, and becomes out of date as the day progresses. With GLAMkit, lobby signage can be just another web page, or it can use an API to access the events model.

Picture of the ACMI box office, showing the cinema times

For more striking displays of lengthy information, Andy Serong at ACMI created a plugin for GLAMkit that allows the ‘what's on today’ display to scale across several screens. Read more about it here.

A mockup of the ACMI cinema times display

2. Send me art

With over two million uses since it hit the public consciousness a earlier this year, Send Me SFMOMA has taken the museum world by storm.

The idea is simple. Text the number 572-51 the message “send me” plus a keyword, a colour, a mood, even an emoji, and the museum will respond with an artwork.

Screenshot of a text message interaction between a visitor and the Send Me SFMOMA service

SFMOMA’s rationale is that only five per cent of its nearly 35,000-strong collection is ever on display at a given time and it’s impossible for visitors to appreciate, let alone view, every piece of art. To see each artwork on display, visitors would have to walk 11 kilometres. To see all the artworks, visitors would have to walk almost 200 kilometres.

Send Me SFMOMA is a way for visitors to contemplate individual pieces on their own time and to interact with the collection when they’re not at the museum.

Behind the scenes, a visitor’s text message is translated into a request to the SFMOMA collection API, which is powered by GLAMkit. GLAMkit looks up the results and returns a record for the work, which is sent to the user as a text. It’s simple, but captivating.

Read Jay Mollica's post at SFMOMA about it here.

3. Printed "What's On This Month" handouts

This is another inventive solution from Andy Serong at ACMI. Each month, ACMI puts together a printed handout detailing the upcoming films and other events at the museum. Until now, the handout has been created manually by a designer in InDesign.

Andy created a short script for the internal team that would pull events data and images from GLAMkit via an API, and lay them out in a PDF. The PDF can then be tweaked if necessary, and sent straight to the printer each month.

What used to take several hours can now be done in a few minutes which gives the team plenty of time to do happy dances, led by Andy. It's an internal project at the moment, but keep an eye on ACMI Labs for the release and write-up.

Since we first wrote this…

… Lucie Paterson at ACMI published this article about getting GLAMkit to drive Trello to help out with project management for events at ACMI.

All these uses are possible because the way we build GLAMkit sites depends on good modelling of the core data, so the website becomes a hub for a lot of the information and data flowing around the museum. GLAMkit also exposes all this through REST APIs that make additional apps easier to develop.

What would you like to use GLAMkit data for? Get in touch to tell us your ideas.

End of article.
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