A blog post by Hannah Highsted
MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies, University of Manchester
The audio tour at Amsterdam Museum works slightly different to audio tours I have seen elsewhere. It uses Podcatcher which works by placing the handheld audio guide next to a stand containing a contactless device and transmits the audio to the handheld device. The audio relates to a looping video explaining the history of Amsterdam. These videos delve into the objects in the exhibition, telling their stories and bringing them to life.
The videos are short, each less than two minutes long, and have a timer in the corner which means the visitor does not get bored or distracted and they know how long the video has left.
The audio tour is an individual experience as each visitor has their own device, however the fact that the device is linked to a looped video means that visitors experience it at the same time, making it easier to have a conversation about the video/audio. In traditional audio tours the the visitor types in a number corresponding to an object which then starts the audio, meaning that it is very difficult for visitors to participate in an experience at the same time.
There were problems with the guide though – certain aspects of it were broken, meaning we were unable to complete the whole tour. Also, it was not stressed how important the guide was – we met some of our classmates in the museum who had not collected one and they felt their experience was heavily impacted by the lack of a guide. Also, the guide did not include instructions on how to navigate the gallery – we very nearly missed out half the gallery. All in all, I felt this audio guide was the most interactive guide I have experienced and the museum’s innovative use of technology really made the visit a memorable one.