I am always encouraged about the future of museums when I see promotions for new technology such as the ErfogedApp. The ErfgoedApp was just recently launched at the Antwerp’s M HKA museum in Belgium in an effort to promote more visitor interaction with museum exhibits. Realizing that just about everyone has a smartphone nowadays, this app was created so that visitors simply scan an object or painting in the collection (no more fancy bar codes like we have seen in the past) and they are given access to videos, soundbites, pictures, information, and even games. Another benefit of this app is that once the visitor downloads it to their phone, they can receive information about future exhibits and other events that will be hosted by the museum. Although the app is just in its beginning phase, over 1,700 heritage sites in Belgium have already signed up for this app. Plans to expand this technology to other museums and offer translations in English, French, and German are already in progress.
The ability to have access to additional information right at your fingertips made me think about our trip to Durham last week. Admittedly, technology is quite expensive, but could apps such as this one help struggling historic sites? Being able to scan items in an historic house could provide visitors with additional information and activities not provided on guided tours. It could also give the visitor a greater sense of control over their visit as they are allowed to interact with the objects electronically rather than feel like an outsider who has to stand behind ropes. Furthermore, if multiple sites sign up for the same app, it could provide an easier way to market historic sites and events directly to the public.