The ASK app at the Brooklyn Museum

This article popped in my Dispatches for the Future of Museums Feed. The Brooklyn Museum launched an iOS and Android app this year that allows visitors to ask a team of art historians questions about pieces displayed in the museum in real time. According to the article, when a question is asked through the app, it takes about 45 seconds for users to get a response. The app only works in the museum and has been streamlined to keep visitors engaged with the art and not their phones. After a question is asked, you receive a notification when the answer has been posted. On an internal level, the team of art historians utilize collection database information and other reference materials to create an in-house wiki about a particular artifact. If a question stumps the team, they let the user know that an email will be sent to them addressing the question. I appreciated this aspect of transparency and honesty. The team actually admits when they don’t have a ready  answer! Evaluations of the app indicate that “Since its launch, there have been about 4,000 conversations through the app. The museum is using data pulled from those exchanges to improve collection installations and exhibition design. It expects about 1% of visitors overall to use the app.” So not only does the app engage visitors, but it facilitates internal operational improvements.

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3 thoughts on “The ASK app at the Brooklyn Museum

  1. I can see this being a great help in evaluating labels and signs. If you repeatedly get the same questions about a particular artifact or exhibit.. it could point to information that should be included directly on the exhibit label.

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  2. I agree this could be great tool for evaluating labels and visitor engagement. Its also might be a good idea to make a setting for questions kids might have. Children seem to have the more interesting questions when it comes to the museum world. Or even having a focus group with kids can help the response team react better to difficult questions.

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  3. I love this app. As you’ve said, Josh, the honesty and transparency is admirable. However, I would love to see them expand the app to allow anyone answer questions, not just the curators and such. This would help create dialogue (yes the dreaded word dialogue) between visitors as well (maybe it can do that and I misinterpreted it). It also peaks my interest that the idea is to keep people off their phones, by using their phones. As ludicrous as this sounds, its perfect!

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