Tag Archives: Museums

App Spotlight: Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

8 Sep

Self-Guided Tour Shares the Story of Coachella Valley Pioneer Cabot Yerxa

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Cabot’s Pueblo Museum preserves the homestead of visionary explorer, artist, and Mason Cabot Yerxa, whose discovery of two desert aquifers provides fresh water to California’s Coachella Valley and gave rise to the area’s hot springs resorts. After 24 years of construction, which began in 1941, Yerxa completed his 35-room pueblo, which was donated to the City of Desert Hot Springs after his death. The site is operated as a heritage museum and share artifacts of his travels, art, and collection of Native American artistry.

The newly launched Cabot’s Pueblo Museum audio tour shares the story of the adventurous pioneer and his self-built Hopi-inspired home.  The tour takes museum visitors around the structures found on the site’s 5 acres, on which the historic home sits. The app offers new interpretive content about these structures, such as the barn, tool house, and studio house, and prompts visitors to think about how they were created with locally sourced, repurposed materials.

“We have little interpretative material for the grounds and using the app will provide visitors with a stronger understanding of Cabot and simpler times in the Coachella Valley,” says Irene Rodriguez, Executive Director of Cabot’s Pueblo Museum. “Hopefully, the information found in the app will also spark greater interest and encourage users to take a guided tour, which is the only way to see the interior of the Pueblo.”

The content for the app is an expansion of an existing grounds brochure, with the audio tour scripted and recorded by a staff tour guide. The museum is working on a new exhibition in a space that has been closed for over 40 years. As this exhibition unfurls, additional content for the audio tour will be added to the app using OnCell’s flexible app-building platform.

“Our process is to start small and grow. We’re excited to use the app as a tool to enhance the visitor experience and add more content over time,” says Rodriguez.

Cabot's Pueblo Museum Brochure Image

The museum uses brochures to promote the app

The museum promotes their app with brochures and signs for tour stops. The tour can be accessed by a dial in tour number or the mobile web app, which uses a keypad.

Listen to their audio tour with their mobile app at: cabotsmuseum.oncell.com

App Spotlight: Heritage Museums & Gardens

23 Jul

Q&A with Andrea Early, Marketing and Communications Director

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Big bugs. Windmill. Vintage carousel. Designer labyrinth. The Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, MA has all the quirk and charm you would expect from a historic museum on Cape Cod. Spanning an expansive 100 acres, it is the largest public garden in Southern New England and celebrates American culture with three galleries that showcase New England folk art, vintage automobiles, and special exhibits. The space is designed to encourage visitors to learn, explore, and discover.

Q. Why did you decide to create a tour app for your organization?

A. We always like to offer information in a variety of formats and apps are now an important part of the mix for our visitors.

Q. What are the goals for the app?

A. It’s a great promotional tool and a convenience for tech-savvy visitors. Plus, our goal is to cut down on the amount of printed maps we give out, helping to preserve the environment and reduce litter in the gardens.

Q. What are the benefits for visitors to use the app?

A. By its very nature, the app offers more in-depth information than our map does. Visitors can tap on linked sections of the map to get more information about the gardens and exhibits and additional photos. There is general information available, too, like our hours of operation, admission, and membership prices. It’s also a great place to list our sponsors!

Q. Can users expect to see any new content in the upcoming year?

A. We plan to keep evolving the app and hope to add audio and video at some point in the coming year.

Q. What advice would you give to other organizations who are looking to create an app?

A. Don’t put it off. It was amazingly easy to do and it’s a great addition to your marketing and communications tool set.

Q. How did you like working with the App Builder?

A. The App Builder is great–easy to use with great support from the TourSphere staff.

Explore the Heritage Museums & Gardens mobile web app. Type http://heritage.toursphere.com into any web-enabled mobile device.

Why a Pilot App Makes Sense

1 May

It’s tempting to think about creating an app that highlights every historical point of interest in your city; or every artifact in your museum. Stop! Don’t go any further.

While it’s great to dream, and to plan in grandiose visions, the truth is – you should dip your toe in the water before jumping into the pool. What do I mean?

Mobile apps have changed, even in the couple of years they’ve been around. Now you can build them yourself – or use template-based app builders like TourSphere – to quickly and easily build apps. The best approach, in my opinion, is to build a pilot app. This is a scaled down version of an app that you can build in 4 – 8 weeks and without much staff time. Then you have a viable product to give to your visitors. They, not you, provide feedback on the experience. They, not you, tell you how to make it better.

Once you have real, quantifiable data from your visitors, you can continue to build out and enhance your mobile app. Then you’re building something your visitors want – not something you think they want.

Let’s take an example. I spoke this morning with a museum that has a campus of six buildings; at any given time they have 3 rotating exhibits; a permanent outdoor sculpture garden; and a permanent indoor collection of over 10,000 objects. They were considering making a massive financial investment, and literally years of planning and staff time, to build an app that included EVERYTHING.

That is potentially a tragic waste of resources. I encouraged them to instead offer a simple “Curator’s Choice” app, which would highlight 20 curator favorites in the permanent collection. The app will take about 6 weeks to build. They will have it in time for summer; and they will have Analytics and a built-in Visitor Survey, in the app. This will give them real data – to inform their long-term mobile app strategy.

This is the way to do it. It saves you time, money, frustration – and leaves the decisions regarding the visitor experience to, well, the visitors.

App Spotlight: Canadian Museum of Nature

19 Mar

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The “Nature Trek” app at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Canada is designed specifically for young visitors to this breathtaking science museum. In this creative app, users are encouraged to explore themes of subject matter that is classified as “Gross”, “Bizarre”, or “Ugly”.

The app contains candid interviews with museum curators and staff – and even includes a “Highlight Tour” of staff favorites around the museum.  Visitors to the museum will get a whole new view in to the museum with this mobile app as their guide.  The app is offered in both French and English.

To view the app, visit http://naturetrek.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the app, visit http://naturetrek.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

Mobile Year in Review: Lessons Learned in Mobile in 2012

31 Dec

As 2012 draws to a close, many of us will be reflecting on what we’ve learned over the past year. While perhaps some reflections will be personal or professional, here at TourSphere, we want to take a minute to review the year in mobile. So we’ve tapped our team to present to you the lessons we’ve learned in the mobile space this year.

Mobile must be a part of your strategy.
– Juliet Devries, VP of Community Relations

2012 was the year that a mobile component to your marketing strategy went from being “nice to have” to “necessary.” Even Facebook learned that the lack of a solid mobile strategy can do a number on your company’s value.

A Nielsen study released in February 2012 revealed that nearly half of the cell phones in the US are smartphones, up 38% over the same statistic for 2011. Microsoft Tag predicts that mobile usage will overtake desktop usage by 2014.

These statistics confirm what all of us already knew from our own day-to-day usage: if you don’t have a mobile presence and if that presence doesn’t make it easy for a user to access your information on their device, you’re losing out on a huge chunk of your audience.

The mobile market will become increasingly fragmented, with more choices for consumers.
– Rob Pyles, CEO

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In the beginning, mobile developers had only to worry about Apple and Android.

Today, the options for mobile devices expand on what feels like a daily basis. From smartphones to tablets, new technology like the Microsoft Surface gives consumers the power of choice and gives developers the headache of having to add yet another platform to their list. A recent Nielsen study showed that Android,  which “dominates” the market, still has less than a 50% market share when it comes to smartphones.

Developing across multiple platforms is going to be increasingly important as we enter 2013. Web apps like those created on TourSphere Builder will provide a flexible, more nimble and more economical option than developing native apps.

You need a long-term mobile strategy, not just an app.
– Clayton Jones, TourSphere Mobile Advisor

In 2011, companies were building apps like crazy. In 2012, we started thinking about other aspects of the mobile strategy. Because so many people are accessing your company or organization’s information by mobile device, it’s essential that an entire strategy take place around the mobile medium, not just a single app, and that that strategy is as flexible as the rest of your marketing plan. We began to see companies turn to TourSphere to help with this flexibility, because web apps can be easily managed and changed unlike native apps.

We began to see that mobile goes beyond simply an app, into location-based services that help with targeted marketing, to websites optimized for mobile devices to coupons delivered by mobile device. An entire strategy around how your audience uses mobile is essential for 2013.  Analytics and data on how visitors are using your app is critical to evaluating, developing and adjusting your mobile strategy.
Tell us: What do you think was the biggest lesson about mobile in 2012, or the biggest mobile story of the year?

App Spotlight: This is Hampton, VA

21 Dec

19eb9e1949b98efcfb150d35271041c18292d866ed749363748b415c.png.301x96_q85Hampton, Virginia is a picturesque city and the site of America’s first continuous English-speaking settlement. Dating back to the 1600s, there’s lots to see in Virginia’s sixth-most populous city, and the Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau wanted to make sure that no one missed a beat. That’s why they created a digital tour guide with the “This is Hampton, VA” app on TourSphere.

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This smartphone city tour provides six “insider’s” tours in the city of Hampton: Downtown Hampton, The Virginia Air & Space Center, the Neighborhood Tour, Hampton University, Fort Monroe and Phoebus. Each walking tour highlights some of the city’s best features and provides visitors with an easy, free way to make a day or weekend out of exploring the city, making it an even more attractive destination.

To get funding for the apps, the Hampton Convention & Visitors Center tapped into each featured organization for relevant grants. This creative method allowed them to pay for the app from a variety of different sources, defraying the cost and serving the mutual interest of a number of local organizations.

  • Downtown Hampton: This one-hour, one-mile tour features an interactive map of downtown and videos that share with the tourist Hampton’s Civil War history, its connectionwith Blackbeard, the site of Bunch of Grapes Tavern (a colonial watering hole), the city’s art and culture and more.
  • Virginia Air & Space Center: Take a walking video tour of 20 aircraft and 10 spacecraft, from antique planes to space shuttles, and learn about the country’s history in the air through videos on your smartphone.
  • The Neighborhood Tour: A 90-minute walking tour of Hampton’s “heart and soul” drives you through scenic roads while giving the opportunity to explore on foot at times. View Victorian homes, waterfront vistas and more.
  • Hampton University: Tour one of the country’s leading Southern universities and its leading historically-black university. In 90 minutes, learn about Hampton University’s pivotal place in the Civil Rights movement, hear about the pro football players that played at Hampton before they “made it big,” and check out Rosa Parks’ former place of employment.
  • Fort Monroe:  One of North America’s most historic and prestigious forts, Fort Monroe has been been a place of refuge for thousands of fugitive slaves; a prison for rebel leaders; and an active military post. Check out the Lincoln Gun, a 49,000 pound cannon and the cell where Jefferson Davis was once imprisoned, all through video and an interactive map.
  • Phoebus: Take a walking tour of one of the oldest neighborhoods in Virginia’s lower peninsula with TourSphere. Videos will talk about the neighborhood’s Civil War history, the Great Depression as depicted by a Post Office mural, and more.

Hampton’s unique idea–to create a package of tours and a complete tourism experience–helps to enhance a visit for any tourist while ensuring that they don’t miss a beat in the city and adding value for member organizations that can be incorporated into tours.

To view “This is Hampton, VA,” visit http://hampton.toursphere.com or scan the QR code with your smartphone.

To view “This is Hampton, VA,” visit http://hampton.toursphere.com or scan the QR code with your smartphone.

 

App Spotlight: Virginia Air & Space Center

14 Dec

34318154b513a1d053ba071710a8b9d54d30c69b1ffb259d5e97f1fc.tiff.473x313_q85The Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau in Hampton, VA has created a unique app package that allows visitors to the city to download a package of six tours that will guide them through the city. Featuring tours of neighborhoods and universities, the comprehensive tours give an insider’s view on the city. But perhaps one of the most popular sites in Hampton is the Virginia Air & Space Center, and accordingly the app for the site gives visitors a dynamic virtual tour through the museum, exhibit by exhibit.

Opening with an exciting ride over the clouds, the Virginia Air & Space Center App guides visitors through the museum with video and audio that gives background on each exhibit. The narrator leads the user through the museum with audio and visual cues, ensuring that the visitor doesn’t miss any important highlights. With 20 aircraft and 10 spacecraft in the center, there’s lots to see.

The app highlights such aviation milestones as the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black military airmen, including video interviews with some of the airmen themselves, providing living encounters of their time in combat. Or, get an up-close look at the F-4E Phantom II while listening to a history of its use and a rundown of how the aircraft is used.

Check out the space capsule that carried astronauts to the moon and back…and hear from one of the astronauts who was on the flight. You can even take a virtual tour of Mars.

The Virginia Air & Space Center is a great example of using multimedia–video and audio–to create a virtual tour that simulates an in-person tour at the museum and helps engage the visitor by providing fascinating background information and ensuring they don’t miss any important details in the museum.

To view the Virginia Air & Space Center App, visit http://hampton.toursphere.com/en/virginia-air-space-center-22607.html or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the Virginia Air & Space Center App, visit http://hampton.toursphere.com/en/virginia-air-space-center-22607.html or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

App Spotlight: Peirce Mill Tour

7 Dec

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Peirce Mill is the last existing mill in the District of Columbia and the only 19th-century gristmill maintained by the National Park Service that operates on a full-time basis. On the National Register of Historic Places, Peirce Mill is a living museum and tribute to the 1820s economy of America and D.C.’s agrarian past. Despite changes over time, the sturdy exterior and interior retain the authentic appearance and atmosphere of a 19th century grist mill, with 170 year-old stone walls, authentic wooden milling machinery, hand-hewn beams and columns, and heavy oak floor boards.

Visitors to the mill can augment their authentic historic experience with a mobile app from TourSphere, providing a richer tour of the old mill. An interactive map of the site  allows visitors to get a real-time read on their location and see everything the mill has to offer. Clicking on any of the sites, immediately calls up the appropriate tour features. This feature ensures engagement of the visitor and that visitors won’t miss areas they’re not aware of. It also allows the app creator to cross-promote local partners and other sites of interest.

At any of the stops along the tour, the mobile app provides history, background and insight that’s not apparent simply by visiting the site. Some stops add multimedia with archival photos. A mobile app provides a more flexible and economical solution to displaying these types of artifacts than presenting them at the site itself.

Custom to the Peirce Mill tour, a hand-drawn interactive diagram of the mill allows the user to touch each component and learn how it works, providing more insight into the history of the site as part of the agrarian economy.

Finally, the Peirce Mill app allows the museum to increase engagement even further with information in its mobile app about school programs, activities to do on the mill site (like picnicking and hiking), and an interactive survey that provides real-time information to the museum about its visitors’ preferences and experiences.

To view the Peirce Mill App, visit http://peircemill.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the Peirce Mill App, visit http://peircemill.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

History and Technology: A Perfect Marriage

16 Nov

Newport, Rhode Island is known as an iconic location filled with historical nods to the past, through the mansions lining the coast, historic meeting houses and buildings downtown, as well as its role in the American Revolution. The Newport Historical Society has married its love and dedication to history, with technology, by providing visitors a TourSphere mobile app to explore Historic Newport.

The Newport Historical Society is dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing items from Newport’s past. Their mobile app allows the public to peruse news, events, offerings and resources and take a step back in time. Guests can also virtually visit the Museum and Gift Shop through their phone. The app, sponsored by a local Real Estate Company, is a great example of monetizing a mobile app and providing a local company great exposure to their target audience. We’ve got some more helpful tips on this topic here.

This season, The Newport Historical Society has lots to talk about! December 1st marks the beginning of the Holiday season, with their Open House event, and proceeding Holiday Lantern Tours. Next week, the Newport Mansions also debut their holiday look, with festive decorations that are not to be missed. So, first check out the mobile app and then plan your visit to historical Newport this season!

To view the Mobile Tour of The Newport Historical Society visit http://newport.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the Mobile Tour of The Newport Historical Society visit http://newport.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

The App “Made in Hollywood”

8 Nov

The use of TourSphere’s technology is just about endless in our imagination – we see an unlimited number of uses for our mobile app technology. From different venues and tours, additional features, and a multitude of uses, we believe that technology is always evolving just like TourSphere. It’s exciting to us when we see our clients have a similar vision and utilize their customized mobile app in a new and different way!

Today, we are very excited to present a unique use of a museum app. The Toledo Museum of Art has built their mobile app through TourSphere, and are showcasing the app in kiosks throughout the museum. As visitors walk from display to display, they are greeted by mounted iPads, providing more insight around the collection.

Currently used in the “Made in Hollywood: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation” exhibit, running through January 2013, the TourSphere app welcomes visitors as they enter the gallery and presents context around the photos of Hollywood. This exhibit includes over 90 prints from the most important photographers of the Golden Age. As you walk through the images of people like Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and others, you can almost hear them speaking fromt he past through iPads.

Bringing together old world Hollywood with the latest cutting edge technology, visitors get the chance to experience history at its finest. We applaud The Toledo Museum of Art on their clever use of their mobile app and look forward to visiting to see technology in action, at it’s best.  It’s clear that this exhibit was meant for the silver screen!

All photos courtesy of Andrew Weber.

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