The Gallery of Virtual Museum Work - Joi Polloi

We’ve had an idea of collating all the work we’ve done for museums in the past few years together for two reasons:

  1. The analytical part of me enjoys it.
  2. To look for common threads and where we can do more stuff for more people.

We do lots of work for various public facing organisations, from museums to TV companies and it’s enjoyable to mix and match and bring these ideas together. It’s also great to be able to take what we learn from projects and make them available for everyone. If any of the below strikes a chord with you then please do get in touch, we always enjoy chatting through ideas!

Things to go in Physical Spaces

I know the article is titled ‘virtual museum’ but we’ve been doing a lot of really great stuff that actually sits inside the museum. It’s great to make something that sits as (literally) part of the furniture, and enhances someone’s visit on the day. Being a company with it’s roots in the web, we think about a physical visit as part of a journey that starts online and want to make the whole thing as part of the big journey. That’s why in our work for the Science Museum Medicine gallery, we took cues from the pre-visit experience into the gallery space.

Inside Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

Inside the Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries at the Science Museum are our new Multimedia Interactive Kiosks (MIKs). These kiosks are freestanding touchscreen devices on display throughout the new gallery spaces, utilising text, images, videos and even interactive 3D models to offer visitors a deeper and richer insight into the collection on display.

We love building things that can be re-used, so even though we were just asked to build for the one gallery, we’ve ended up building a modular museum-wide information system that is in the process of being made open source.

For Glasgow Science Centre’s Idea No59 we’ve designed, built and delivered six game-based interactive touchscreen exhibits to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers by providing a hands-on, practical approach to enable visitors to get to grips with science, and see modern scientific principles in action.

Us in the office testing the Idea no.59 exhibits in development

Both of those projects are gallery-wide, but we also do smaller scale one-offs, such as what we’re working on at the moment for Sheffield’s Festival of the Mind, creating psychological tests!

Engaging people in Exhibitions & Events

Getting people interested is always a fun thing to do, whether that’s to excite them to go and do something, or make them feel closer to a subject they previously cared little for. We’ve a strong history of making things for media and culture institutions.

  • We created the BBC Tomorrow’s World Global Change Calculator to engage people with science and technology by allowing them to explore how the world has changed in them and their relatives lifetimes. They simply enter their birth year, a relatives, then explore how science has progressed and look at data differences across the years.
BBC Tomorrow’s World Global Change Calculator
  • Our response to the challenge of engaging the 25–35 audience in the Natural History Museum’s Venom exhibition was to develop a killer game of “Would You Rather?”, where players had to choose between two scary-looking creatures to identify which was the most dangerous to humans, with frequently surprising results.
Natural History Museum Venom Exhibition
  • In a more light-hearted vein we created a tongue-in-cheek personality quiz for National Museum Scotland that connected players to Rip It Up, their history of Scottish pop exhibition by posing the question ‘What kind of Scottish Popster are You?’
  • Allowing people to customise and feel something is special to them is what lay behind BBC’s My Glasto Lineup, an online tool where fans could put together a personalised line-up of Glastonbury acts that they wanted to see and turn that line-up into a custom poster that they could download or share on social media. Alongside the poster, the process finished nicely with a schedule of their chosen lineup performances, when and where to watch them, complete with calendar reminders ensuring they wouldn’t miss a thing, whether they were at the event or watching at home.
BBC’s My Glasto Lineup: my own favourite lineup in one of the many styles
  • As part of playing around with audience expectations and how they engage with something, we’ve gone into the world of bots. This includes making chatbots to help guide you round the town of Dunfermline, and also chatbots for Channel 4 to recreate the atmosphere of the TV show Humans.
Dunfermline Tours chatbots
  • We’re even in the process of creating an entire ‘interactive documentary’ format delivered entirely through chat (and gorgeous illustrations).

Merging the world of chatbot and audience engagement, we’re doing some research at the moment thanks to XR Stories, to look at how chatbots can be used to help take their interest in a TV show that one step further. I think this will be really handy in a museum too — imagine being able not just to have an audio tour of a gallery, but actually discuss your response to your experience. Or maybe that’d be horrible — you never know until you try.

Whilst on the topic of moving around, our work with Dunfermline has seen us make a handy system for creating walking tours of a town, easy to follow maps, peppered with hotspot filled with information, pictures and audio to help you understand not just the location, but about the culture and history that makes a place special.

Dunfermline Tours

Rather than place the tours behind a barrier of forcing a visitor to download an app, they are delivered as a mobile first responsive site. This allows visitors to use the app as they walk the streets of the town, and also people further afield can experience it from the comfort of their armchair, or from a desktop.

Other People

Well, that’s enough about us, if you want to see what other people do — these two links below are great!