A blog post by Minxuan Wen
MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice, University of Manchester

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Rembrandt House Museum offers free audio tour for its visitors.

The visitors can collect an audio device at the basement, and can activate it by holding the audio device and pointing it to the little cube (the scan point) on the wall within 30 centimetres. Once the signal in the audio device and it in the scan point are connected, the audio commentary will be played automatically.

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Each audio has two alternative types, namely regular audio for adults and child-friendly audio for children.

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After finishing the audio tour, visitors can use the kiosks to send their personal tour to their email boxes.

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The email will link them to the website MapMyVisit, where the audio commentaries that have been listened to or have been missed out by the visitor have been sorted out. All the audio commentaries of the museum’s collection are available on the website and can be played again.

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Rembrandt House Museum’s audio tour can enhance the visitors’ experience from many aspects. It is a multilingual tour, enabling people using different languages to obtain information about the museum; it provides different audio tours for different groups of people, offering regular and child-friendly audio commentaries at the same time; the audio device is fairly easy to handle, without text to read and buttons to press; it also provides post-visit experience support, linking on-site visit in the physical space and online visit in the virtual space.

However, there are a few drawbacks of the audio tour that can be improved. First, the audio tour does not support multimedia content. The audio device does not have a screen, and cannot show any picture or animation. This can be inconvenient for navigation as the position information cannot be presented by images. Second, the audio tour lacks the support of content personalisation, and further exploration on the information of the museum and the objects is not available. Third, although the audio tour provides the support of post-visit experience, it links the visitors to another platform rather than the museum’s website. The audio commentaries online have no difference with those in the audio device, not supporting content personalisation and in-depth exploration either. Therefore, the post-visit experience tends to be not encouraging for visitors to do physical visit at the museum again.

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