Interaction Beyond the Touchscreen

Speakers: Lucie Paterson • Andrea Montiel de Shuman • David Charles Patten • Neal Johnson • Ryan Dodge Wednesday, November 11 • 4:00pm - 5:00pm Recognizing our new normal under COVID-19 restrictions it is important to consider visitor engagement with onsite digital experiences. In some regions, government restrictions have mandated that all touchscreen interactives remain off when museums re-open. In other regions visitors have been variably reluctant or willing to interact with touchscreens. Public sentiment and policy is evolving in real time and is difficult to generalize so what are museums to do? Is this an opportunity for museums to rethink the digital experience in-gallery? Is this a rebirth of BYOD experiences or a chance for something completely different? Are fringe benefits accrued by rethinking digital engagement? Panelists from the USA, Canada, UK and Australia will discuss steps taken at their museums to meet these challenges and will also share visitor responses to these new forms of interaction.


Unknown Speaker 00:00
Hello friends welcome to interaction beyond the touchscreen. I'm David Nunez. I used to he him pronouns. I have a short dark beard with a little bit of gray mixed in. I wear glasses and have a headset on. I'm wearing a light blue button down shirt and I'm standing in front of a virtual background that is a solid purple color. I am here as a board member of MC n. And to welcome you to this session. Please know that I and all the other board members are always willing to hear your feedback about how this conference is going for you. We want deeply for all of you to have a safe, fun and interesting experience. Welcome. MC n is a nonprofit volunteer run professional organization. committed to growing the digital capacity of museum professionals. MC n has developed a deep active community engaged in year round concert for conversations, webinars and resource sharing. As an MC m member, you can join special interest groups participate in our membership mentorship, program, and shape MCs, future and leadership roles, sick chairs, conference chairs, and with time on the MC onboard. If you're not already a member, we hope you will join us You can learn more at mc We'd like to thank Microsoft the registration is registration Assistance Fund sponsor, axial who sponsored the awesome Ignite session session last night. And all the other sponsors listed on the program schedule for helping make this conference possible. Please post your questions in the q&a box, which you'll find at the bottom of the zoom screen. And the panelists will respond to them as they are able. There will also be a couple of pop up polls during this this conversation. Once again, this session is interaction beyond the touchscreen. And now let's turn it over to the presenters.

Unknown Speaker 01:36
Thanks so much, David. Ryan Dodge here. In my day to day I'm head of digital experiences at the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum. And like many of you joining us and and the rest of the panel, we've had, you know, a pretty interesting few months at our two museums. My role is really focused on in gallery technology. And so we've gathered people from around the world who also work in this area to talk about what's happening where they are. So I'll just go through and introduce. But first off, if we could have our first poll question. Really simple poll question is your museum currently opened or closed? And so you can just, you know, let us know just to give us an idea of where everyone is at. We are open. So I'd like to introduce the panelists here that I have with me. First, I'd like to introduce Andrea Montiel de Shuman, who is currently an independent digital experience designer focused on collaborating to create digital experiences to help communities see themselves and art, among other things, and draya serves on the program committee of MC n. She's part of the organizing committee of a tech and media Music Awards, and is also an education program advisor for the future Smithsonian Latino galleries and recently she has been focused on the ethics and moral implications of emerging technology as well as better labor practices and conditions in museums. Thank you for joining us today. Andrea, how are things going where you are?

Unknown Speaker 03:21
Oh, it's great. It's sunny and I'm ready to for this conversation is great to see you all.

Unknown Speaker 03:27

Unknown Speaker 03:29
Next, I'd like to introduce Lucie Paterson who's joining us from looks like sunny Melbourne. And actually tomorrow morning. She is head of experience product and digital at the Australian Centre for the moving image. And with little over 12 years of experience leading digital and cultural organizations including tape Papa, the Southbank Centre London and now a cmaj, Melbourne, Lucy's work shapes, exhibitions and experiences that will lead our sector into the future. Her current work is focused on the $40 million redevelopment of a CMI and building a new institution of interactive media and screen wearing Lucy, thank you for joining us today and how are things done under?

Unknown Speaker 04:16
Hi, everyone. Thanks for having me. This is my first enzian conference. I'm really excited to be here. And I'd like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the country that I'm on today, the laundry people of the Kulin nation, I'd like to recognize the continuing connection to the land waters and culture and pay my respects to the elders past, present and emerging. And so yeah, I'm at Acme in Melbourne, Australia. We've been closed since May 2019. For our $40 million redevelopment. We have been doing some programming off site. And and so I guess for us when COVID had we were in a fortunate position where we'd already closed we'd plan to have no Front of House staff. We've already made a lot of those plans. So that was Quite a blessing in some ways. I think now when I read somewhere has actually experienced the harshest lockdown so far globally, we've been in lockdown since March. And we got out just a couple of weeks ago. So most of the museums in Melbourne, Victoria have only been three weeks since March. So it's been a big thing for us. So yeah, I'll probably bring a different perspective and that we're not in gallery at the moment. I'm looking forward to the conversation.

Unknown Speaker 05:26
Right. Thanks, Lucy. And next we have Neal Johnson, who is the digital media director at Crystal Bridges, Museum of American Art. And Neil faces daily opportunities and challenges of implementing digital media, physical and virtual spaces. He makes them form sustainable choices that enhance the user experience, privilege, flexibility and interaction and maximize visitor experience. He really focuses on engaging with diverse audiences, meeting them where they are. And you know, some of these things are all central to Neil's work. So Neil, thanks for joining us this afternoon. How are things going in Arkansas?

Unknown Speaker 06:06
Well, pretty well, I presume I'm actually located in DC briefly, sort of shuttling between two places. But as I understand it, it's sunny and warm in Arkansas, so good for them. The museum did close like everybody else. But the state of Arkansas permitted organizations like ours to open as early as June. And so we did that limiting our attendance. I believe we're permitting something less than half of what would be our normal, expected amount of daily visitation. But while there are all the attending challenges with that, during a moment like this, I think we tried to be extremely careful and conservative, and have been rewarded, I think, along with our constituents, they've shown their appreciation and have have showed up in their numbers. And so we're pleased to be able to continue to serve them but always being watchful. The thing maybe this is a situation that's changing, you know, right in front of us, so we need to be vigilant. Right.

Unknown Speaker 07:11
Next, And last, but certainly not least, to have Dave Patton who's head of new media at the Science Museum, London and manages all aspects of new media and AV from conceptual design, prototyping and production to project managing external developers and production companies. Dave has a background in electronics and computer science and has worked at the Science Museum for over 30 years, developing exhibitions and leading development teams. Good evening, Dave, how are things in London?

Unknown Speaker 07:41
Hi, Ryan. Yeah, they're good. Um, it's kind of strange not to be with you all. And I'm definitely missing that. But I'm quite enjoying the fact that it's evening for me, so I can have a beer while I'm in sessions. We, we closed in March, and we reopened in August, we've just had to re close. We went into lockdown again last week, which is pretty disappointing, because we'd had a fairly successful school break just before we locked down. And we've had over 100,000 people into the museum. So it's it's slightly disappointing. We've been forced to re close.

Unknown Speaker 08:17
Yeah, so the same situation us for in the National Capital Region in Canada. My my two museums are actually in the War Museum is in Ontario and the history museums in Quebec, so you know, different provinces and different, you know, stipulations and restrictions in both provinces. So it's been interesting to manage that. The History Museum, which is a cabac is closed, I was open for a few months, September and October and then closed near the end of October again. And then the War Museum has been open, since we reopened in the late summer. So it's been really interesting to sort of manage that as well. For all of our attendees, we're not gonna be sharing any slides. This is a an open discussion, we do have a few questions to run through for the panelists. But please do like David said in the introduction, please do pop your questions into the q&a and paying attention to that and also trying to keep an eye on the chat as well. I think if we could have our next poll question that would help. And for those of you that are open, how have you updated your in gallery digital experiences? So the first batch of questions we're going to tackle really focuses on our visitors and and how they've met, you know, the experiences that we've updated. So to kick us off, I'm just going to read the first question, and it is what does this What does all of these interventions that we've done or not or, or haven't done in our galleries mean long for visitors, are we serving visitors differently? or leaving any behind? or any of the behavioral changes like touchless experiences going to resist? wants to take that on first?

Unknown Speaker 10:15
And happy good. I'm happy to start. so complicated answer because I know that many museums work differently. But what I have observed in the larger institutions, which is where I belonged, which I'm sure is different with smaller institutions. I wonder, is this started Jason behind digital? I think that it was interesting where the decision making power was switched. When Coronavirus head it seemed to me that leadership in institutions even beyond mine, focused on how fast they go open their institutions with their minimum requirements. And I will say that, you know, it's kind of natural on one sense, but for us experience designers for those who care about the visceral experience, and they understand that they are limitations already as it is between equity and access. We so some nightmarish situations happening, where I will define that. I will say that the visitor was redefined, and who we serve, last redefine, and it was based on a sense of urgency in my opinion. And that led to thinking of the visitor as people that have good internet access that have maybe more than one computer, and within in a gallery, that they are able bodied. So that is the assumption that has come in. And I think that there has been an excuse to address it in more meaningful ways by saying, Well, when I mean a little fun, dammit, we're doing what we can. Seven months after I haven't seen much change on that perspective. But please correct me if I'm wrong.

Unknown Speaker 11:55
Yeah. So just quickly before anyone else jumps in, I think the last poll showed about 50% push to bring your own device. Yeah. 40 49% or so. So, you know, some interesting things to think about there. Thanks, Andrew.

Unknown Speaker 12:10
So Ryan, can I jump in? Yes. In response to that. So I think I my experience wasn't like handrails at all. I mean, I think we were shot for six months. So we had lots of time to work out how we were going to reopen. And visitors were absolutely at the core of that the safety of visitors and of museum staff. We did a thorough audit of everything in the museum. And we had working groups working through what the approaches would be. And we looked at whether we needed to pivot away from touchscreens. And in the end decided not to do that we had when we instigated a massively ramped up cleaning regime, which is very public. So it's very visible to the visitor, we put a lot of signage in the museum, the things that we removed were anything that had close contact with the face or head. So we had to take out all of the headphones. And we've got a number of exhibits that have eyepieces looking at to take those out. The major impact of that was some of the headphone exhibits were part of that access layer, they had built an induction loop, so they worked for people that were hard of hearing. And what we're currently doing is making sure that access layer is put back in in a slightly different way. So we are introducing various things that are accessible via mobile phones, to allow you to still to access that content. And that's an ongoing process. But it's nearly complete now. And certainly will be complete by the time we reopen the second time. And the reason we one of the reasons we didn't switch from touchscreens is we were quite concerned about the the other options that were available, and then not well tested and research with visitors and we didn't want to start to change interfaces, without being able to do extensive is to study work to make sure that whatever we're putting in was going to work for all audiences. And I've certainly heard some stories of museums that remove touchscreens, or turn them off where visitors are still trying to touch the screens, even though they're off, which seems to be the worst of both worlds. It doesn't actually solve the problem and still puts people potentially at risk.

Unknown Speaker 14:25
I think morass, I think for us, because yeah, we have, like I've said, we've been close this whole time, we've been thinking about our reopening and reopening the whole new museum. And we've gone out with a new vision, which is a multi platform museum vision. So it's not just physical, it's also online. So we're now the strategy is very much about a cross platform. And so that's kind of how we're planning going forward and our main visitor experience when we do but reopen as of today. called the lens, which is a handheld device inspired by ViewMaster reels, and you take it around with you on your visit, and you can collect things that you like in the exhibition to look at later. So everything's online. So anything you see in the exhibition will also be online, as well, for you to see. So I guess for us, we say opportunities for the gap board as a close, they will be internationally, I'd say for some time. So tourism wise, we have kind of, yeah, we're pretty limited now. So I think we're excited to experience hopefully, a deeper engagement and gallery was as it is, so that people can be we can be doing tours or curated tours, taking smaller groups through and offering a richer, deeper engagement. And we're also seeing a much deeper engagement online as well. Because yet people have been at home, they've got much more time on their hands. And they have wanted things to do I have a lockdown. So yeah, that's been our experience.

Unknown Speaker 16:03
That's great. I'm sorry, I think I think I cut out a little bit. So I may have missed, but I'm back. No apologies there. I think the next poll launched and, you know, I think it went along with what everyone was saying. And, you know, the question was, for those of you who are open or visitors engaging with using gallery interventions, and 63% said, Yes. And, and 37% said, No, so it's a, you know, interesting to see. I don't know, you know, the next question is really about visitors again? And do you know, do we see? What constitutes a visitor? Has that changed at your institution? Are we thinking about visitors differently? But I'm not sure there's a question here coming in from the chat curious if you think this is for Dave, here's how you think that the Science Museum museums are taking a different approach than our museums. David sounds like your evaluation of touch points was extremely rigorous and well planned.

Unknown Speaker 17:03
I'm not sure we're taking a different approach from art museums, certainly in the UK, I think we took advantage of the amount of time that we knew would be closed for to thoroughly investigate with our interpretation teams and curatorial teams, every exhibition, and all of the elements that we thought we might need to change. So we make conscious decisions about everything, and had time to implement the things that came out of that. So we use the fact that we knew we were going to be closed for quite some time to our full advantage, and resisted, but there was certainly a bit of a push early on, to perhaps try and reach decisions quite quickly about what we were doing without thoroughly investigating. And we pretty quickly pivoted to that, no, we need to really investigate to the point where we a couple of us went into the museum while we were in full lockdown. And when we were in full lockdown, we only had six security people on site in the main Museum in the group. And just to remind ourselves of all of the exhibit, so we were making really informed choices about everything.

Unknown Speaker 18:12
So I guess, yeah, let's let's follow that up with you know, has it has the notion of what constitutes a visitor changed at your institution? I think Lucy, you wanted to kick us off on this one?

Unknown Speaker 18:22
Yeah, um, for us, it definitely has, I think, more the notion of what a visit is that definitely has for sure, and there's an increased interest definitely from our board and our donors about a virtual program and the online content and how that's going. And the conversations are happening about how we might adjust our key performance indicators to represent this change and consumption and engagement. So people are definitely more aware and more understanding now of a digital visit and digital engagement. And it's now for us about how we meaningfully measure that going forward.

Unknown Speaker 19:14
Maybe there is also a new perspective around visitors and who these visitors constitute I think that maybe some of the people that are watching used to dream that digital visitors will be considered and especially since we already understood that this was a great, great possibility to advance the field. And I think that we're finally getting that pressure. Getting that event from not top leadership by actually main donors or different people that are actually do require reports like if their foundations are supporting an institution, I imagine that finally is in the report. And that can be a leverage negotiation point and definitely something to push for good good user experiences.

Unknown Speaker 20:01
Good. So I think there was another question about the chat about, you know, styluses. And I think we might maybe we're going to talk about this in the future. But let's just chat about maybe some of those interventions a little bit. And Davey wanted to pick up that one.

Unknown Speaker 20:16
Yeah, just on the question of Silas as it was, it was something that we looked at. In my Museum, we've been doing digital for 3540 years. And when we reviewed, we have three different touchscreen technologies in the museum, that would have required two different stylus types. So there was a there was an already would be a huge problem in terms of visitor journey with explain to people when they might use one and when they might use another. But also, we get 3.4 million people a year through our door. So even if the sinuses are a few cents, the cost is still quite significant. And one of our core values is around sustainability. And we were concerned about the amount of waste that we might be generating by doing that. So we quickly discounted using styluses. And I know other museums have successfully deployed styluses.

Unknown Speaker 21:06
I'll add just a quick note of that, as we did some testing on some alternatives. Looking to a future when we might be in a hybrid situation we're bringing touch back, but our audiences aren't necessarily all going to be ready to buy back into touching things in public. The alternatives that we looked at were you know, capacitive items like finger cots finger prophylactics made of nitrile or latex, all the latex has allergen problems. And then styluses. And I think, you know, everything David said is interesting and important, you know, cost and, and issues of sustainability. We also came at that from a notion of accessibility and accommodation, there playing folks with motor skill challenges, who might be able to point in touch said something, but being able to do fine motor control of a small stylus and, and hitting very fine points in our interactives sort of heaped on top of the waste and the cleaning overhead. And and, you know, the desire to not be think about these things as disposable items is leading us away from from that as an option.

Unknown Speaker 22:10
Right? Yeah, just just to, you know, add to that a little bit, we, you know, we have a lot of audio experiences that are button activated, because we're bilingual institutions, we have to provide all of our content in English and in French. So we, you know, have traditionally used push buttons in exhibits. And we've since moved to, you know, either putting that content online, looping that content, if we could, you know, removing the headphones as well. But we're also installing infrared buttons as well. So people can just wave over for the language. And then we're also looking at, we're going to be installing some, it's called velo stat. It's a conductive fabric, that could go under a four sticker or something like that, that people can step on or rollover with a wheelchair to engage those experiences as well. So it's just just some things for attendees to look into. But let's, let's keep rolling where, you know, I see the time taken away. So we're gonna talk about content a little bit. We've got a question here as the value and production of digital content changed at your institution? I think, Neil, you wanted to tackle that one? First?

Unknown Speaker 23:18
Yeah, I'd like to contradict myself as I as I answer it, because I think we we found in some ways, in particular, the the dramatic increase, almost 600% increase in consumption of our digital content, we have a very robust YouTube channel, we switched very quickly to live streaming and pre packaged tours, for schools, stay at home families, you know, really trying to meet the need, where where it was during, especially during the summertime, while everyone was essentially quarantine. And, you know, our goals, our strategic goals for hiring are really around that kind of media production. Because I think we see in the future, we're not walking away from that when you know, in a post COVID situation, we realize we're reaching people further afield. Our digital marketing can be reaching out to people all over the country all over the world. And we can be delivering content at scales that we just we didn't consider before. So I think very dramatic pivot towards media production, and looking at people just really anxious to consume that. The other direction, though, is that's not always a solution. So when we locked down our education department went out to the local community that they serve the school children of Northwest Arkansas, and said, What do you need from us? And the answer wasn't art. It was we need food. Our kids that are in Title One schools aren't getting breakfast and lunch every day. We can't pay rent. You know, it was core needs kind of stuff. So we partnered with local folks who could help distribute lunches that are back of house in front of house culinary staff who are otherwise idle or making lunches 2000 a day, put in a little baggie with some art materials in it and ship that out to these Title One schools and Find ways to solve the problem. And I mean, sure we used email, I mean, digital was involved. But you know, I think it's, it's taking a look at these problems and really listening to what the fundamental issue is. And sometimes it's not access to art, or information about art. It's it's a very basic stuff. And we're very wealthy institutions at the end of the day, and we can see and accept an obligation to meet people at their point of need.

Unknown Speaker 25:29
I would like to add to that, and no, that was beautiful. And I hope that is inspiring for everybody who is listening is more than an experience, I want to do a recommendation, which is early on beautiful minded colleagues of mine put together really quickly accessibility recommendations, equitable practice recommendations. And I think if you put together a list of considerations, and this is something you can reevaluate every so often, and you'll see it and think Who is your community and is not a digital user, it is a person who is experiencing a global pandemic as well. We're all in this together. Like in this phone call, there's several places represented, we're all in a certain level of stress. So thinking of the not just the interaction consideration, but also the cognitive considerations can lead for you to properly reevaluate digital experiences, sometimes the best is to de escalate the technology, or to find a completely different solution, as Neil is proposing.

Unknown Speaker 26:36
That's a really good point, both of you made and there's actually a question in the chat. I don't know if we want to keep on on this. On this route, I think, I think it's a good thing to discuss. You know, question is, from Jacques habba, from from Texas, how have you all met the needs of analog audiences, those that may not have immediate access to virtual programming, or attendance? Anyone want to want to talk about that? put you on the spot a little bit.

Unknown Speaker 27:09
I mean, I don't mind answering Ryan, I'd say from our perspective, not well at all. We furloughed most of our outreach staff, and shuts their outreach programs, partly because they were just difficult to run, because so much of the country has locked down in various ways. And even if we had been able to run event would have been for maybe two or three people at a time. So we didn't deal with that at all. And it's a massive problem. But not just a problem for museums, it's a problem in our school service as well. That if you don't have access to technology, you're not getting an education if you're not going to school. And it's a big, it's a big talking point in the car at the moment about the the lack of access that that sections of the population have to technology. And it's not uncommon. And my wife's a teacher, it's not uncommon for her to be, you'll have a family that's got Children's School, where might be a family with four children, but they only have one laptop, or one tablet, for all four children to share. And that's fine when they're not trying to do schoolwork. But if they're all trying to do schoolwork at the same time, that really doesn't work.

Unknown Speaker 28:22
Yeah, it's a tough situation. I know, I have three little ones at home as well. And, you know, one, one piece of technology. So yeah, when we were, you know, trying to homeschool everyone back in the spring, it was definitely a challenge to get get work done. And, you know, and you know, I'm very fortunate. So, yeah, it's, it's a challenge. And I don't know that, you know, it's it's definitely maybe something that gets, you know, left, you know, an afterthought about, you know, more and more often than not, so I think it's definitely, you know, good question, and definitely something that we need to think more about going forward. There's also another question and a quarter sort of deals with that human interaction. You know, the question is, were there any changes to and how guests interact with staff in the galleries? You know, for those of you that did reopen? Was there more floor staff available to interact with visitors? Did anyone you know, did Does anyone have any experience with that?

Unknown Speaker 29:28
And, again, from it from our perspective, there are certainly more cleaning staff and the cleaners are on the floor of the museum. During the day when you should they clean the museum out of ours, it's very visible. Staff are more visible, I think this time, just because they're trying to keep this to safe. And we did a massive re graphic and program across the museum with advice and guidance about using the Museum at this time. So around social distancing, wearing masks. We close some lifts off, we've got capacities in all of the lifts. So you know that they're only suitable for one family or two families. And we have people around that can help you if you if you have a problem with any of that. And certainly the feedback that we've had from visitors is they were, the visitors that came were extremely positive that we were really that we'd reopened. And we're very grateful that we reopened and it was, yeah, it felt a little bit like it, a little sense of normality coming back to be able to come back to the museum. And they were certainly very grateful for the very visible signs of about care of them when they were in the building.

Unknown Speaker 30:44
Yeah, we've got one comment from Algeria that says that, you know, with reduced capacity, it seems like there's more for staff, but actually, it's the same amount of for staff, but just less visitors. So there is can, the staff can take more time and, and care with their visitors. So that's, that's an interesting

Unknown Speaker 31:03
ride. We're not open yet, obviously. But when we do early next year, we've been to be able to have more floor staff, we're talking about having different opening hours. So trying a different model. So opening a bit later, and then staying up later, or staying open later to accommodate for the people that are sort of finishing work in the city or so that's something that we're looking at, and all the sort of COVID safe planning that Dave mentioned, like very similar. And we will have people in the main sort of areas where there are tap screens and interactives really sort of thinking about whether it's self cleaning is then the people that visitors are doing it or we've got extra staff there cleaning. So yeah, a lot, there's been a huge amount of work around what things we actually shut off completely versus what things we do leave open and space capacities and social distancing. And yeah, it's, it's a big piece of work. And just working with the other museums, because we know that people just don't come and see us, they're going to the National Gallery, they're going to the Melbourne Museum, they're visiting the State Library and a whole lot of other institutions and whatever behavior or whatever sort of restrictions or guidelines or support that they see in those places, we want to mimic so that they can go they can kind of experience Melbourne culturally and have expectations about when I go to Acme, what will that be like? And I, they want to, they want to be familiar with I've been earlier. So we're working with all the other institutions so that there's some kind of alignment across that.

Unknown Speaker 32:47
Yep, we certainly did the same list with all of the museums around us to make sure that we were all opening with the same kind of offer. Because what we didn't want is for one museum to open their catering and another one, not because they felt it was unsafe, because that sends a very mixed message to visitors. And we wouldn't want that message to be really clear from all of us.

Unknown Speaker 33:12
Yeah, good. Good point. Both of you. We actually have another question in the q&a box. So I think we should tackle that before we move on with our with our other questions. It's from Sarah Hill. And she asked, Did anyone ask for staff to operate interactives on behalf of the visitor, so that there was one person touching them and not many? You know, for us at the at the Museum of History, we covered all most of our interactives and put them online, the ones that we could and placed a QR code in our galleries. And then like Dave, you know, the ones that are available still, there's lots of cleaning happening. So you know, we didn't take that route, but curious if others have.

Unknown Speaker 33:54
We didn't take that route. But we have an exhibition that's currently in the Grand granzow Science Museum in China. And that's the approach they took they had floor staff operating exhibits on behalf of visitors.

Unknown Speaker 34:09
While he's not an announcer is definitely on the set of more of a recommendation. But I will encourage everybody to remember that interaction at the end of the day is offering choices to visitors that are going through a museum that normally makes a lot of choices for them. So interactives are some of the only few moments in which a visitor gets to the site or experience. So sometimes it is not a matter of completely reimagining the entire experience as much as you can rethink about how you can offer those moments of choice and at least provide that sense of ownership on one's experience as we visit a museum

Unknown Speaker 34:54
you know, thanks. Thanks Sandra for adding that. It's definitely something to you know, to keep in mind for sure. There's another question on the q&a. But I think we're gonna go to one of ours if that's all right. We talked a little bit about content. I wasn't sure if anyone wanted to add to that one, you'll talk a little bit about, you know, the, the production of digital content, how that's changed. Does anyone want to want to throw in on that one? Or should we go to the next one?

Unknown Speaker 35:24
We'll get to the maybe the data question. I don't know what the panel thinks. But it might be some interesting. Yeah, let's,

Unknown Speaker 35:30
let's skip, skip ahead a little bit. So, you know, we've got a, we've got a little bit of, we've got a few different themes of our questions. The next section is about data. So reporting value, how important is data gathering become, for all of you in this new in the last few months,

Unknown Speaker 35:51
and since I made this suggestion, I'll jump in. It has, you know, I'm lucky to be at an institution that already takes data seriously. And, and is, is pretty robust in the way it synthesizes a lot of different sources of data for purposes of decision making, and planning and strategy and such. But I was pretty impressed. By the way, not only did we increase and, and and diffuse the way that we're using data just to try to deal with the onslaught of figuring out Well, in this moment where it's unclear, we're not doing our normal thing, what should we do? The decision making around Who should we be serving was definitely informed by data. So it was pretty, I mean, low hanging fruit, we could look at YouTube and say, Oh, my gosh, 600% increase in, in, in usage there. So that that led us down a path that takes us to where we are now. But I think that the thing that's key and that I hope is sustainable is because we were asking for resources in a moment where there was already a deficit of resources, our leadership, and our board, started asking questions we'd never heard them before. Things that were much more deeply engaged with notions of experience and conversion and engagement. And we're challenging us for the first time to make really convincing deep, data driven and experience driven recommendations about what we should be doing so that we're being smart about this. And so that's exciting. It's also daunting, because you know, we have to catch up and add all that layer of effort and expertise and technology required to to meet the need that's coming in and start to refine and define these questions. So it's, we're just at the leading edge of what I hope is a permanent change and improvement in the way we're leveraging data.

Unknown Speaker 37:39
So just share another poll here. Is your organization considering digital digital engagement has visitation and 70%? over 71%? Say yes. So I wonder, Lucy, maybe you could talk to us a little bit about, you know, how you're reporting on on what's happening in Melbourne? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 37:58
so very similar to Neil. And like I mentioned earlier, we're getting a lot of requests from leadership and our CEO and board and donors for this sort of data more than ever. And I think for us, we're looking around to see in the museum sector and not, you know, I think what we do generally is, as a sector as we look at advertising, and we kind of that's how we measure a lot of the time. So I think we're looking for a good model for these sort of metrics. I think we've gone from a place of years ago, measuring website, visitation to social media to the mobile, and now people are actually blocking these analytics tools. And so some of the time we're finding that the data is actually less accurate now than it has been in the past. And at a time when we're getting more and more questions, and there's more interest. The organization is looking into the analytics as well. And that people that haven't really looked in analytics before and aren't really sure how to analyze or interpret I guess, those numbers. So at a time when it's, we're getting more requests for it. I think we're sometimes not reporting the right metrics, or they're not helpful. So we just yeah, we're working through that at the moment. And tonight.

Unknown Speaker 39:18
It's great. I threw up the next poll there. Just Just to add to that, just to go along with that. Sorry, Andrea. Go ahead.

Unknown Speaker 39:26
No, read the poll. I'll answer your question.

Unknown Speaker 39:29
Oh, it's fine. It's, uh, you know, how are you tracking that digital engagement? So is there regular reporting and data analytics going on? Or is it more qualitative evaluation or none at all. So we'll just wait for the results. And

Unknown Speaker 39:46
I'll jump in quickly then Ryan on the data. For us. The pandemic has actually been an interesting opportunity, in that we've always created data around online visits, but we're a free museum. So collecting data on people visiting the museum has been tricky. But because of pandemic, when we reopen, do you have to book a timed entry slot. So you have to book and we can capture a lot more information about the people that are coming. So you book a ticket, we send a pre visit email out to a couple of days before to remind you, and then we send a post visit email to check that your visit was okay. And we're collecting obviously, email addresses and other information from those visitors in the way that's been quite difficult for us to collect before. So for us, it's one of the it is kind of one of the real opportunities that pandemic has provided the museum, right, to have a deeper understanding of really who's coming.

Unknown Speaker 40:47
I will let him know that around qualitative data. I definitely observed that I got mine off organizations focus on analytics, and this is natural, because of what is perceived as a user. What I hope that we can start seeing is exactly what Neil David Lucy are mentioning around qualitative data, I think that it will be fantastic if we can collect information around whether or not these digital experiences not not just are being clicked on, but but also they make meaning for the person that experienced that. Did it make sense for the community that received it? Did he help in any way support their personal interest? I think that these are questions that are really worth thinking about. Because in this way, we move beyond the user as a number. And we think of people.

Unknown Speaker 41:44
Yeah, and you know, it shows them the numbers, you know, 84% are doing the data analytics, and I think it was 80% or, or 6%. We're doing the the qualitative and yeah, I think that's something that we're also looking at, as well as, how do we get beyond those vanity metrics and really report on impact? And so, you know, that's, that's something that I really want to work on this year, for sure. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 42:08
An increase in Iran thunders actually what they're really interested in is what the impact of the thing we're funding, it's less less about how many people are coming. It's like, how much impact do you make for each person that comes? And for museums, that that could be quite difficult, because there's obviously an impact you make at the time. But there's a long tail to that impact, which is, which is very difficult to measure without doing, you know, very complex longitudinal studies. Yep. Yeah, it's

Unknown Speaker 42:37
really hard to close that loop. But I think it's definitely, you know, worth putting in the time and the effort for sure. We're running out of time. So I'm going to go quickly to our next section, which, which is around internal conversations. And so how has the pandemic changed your internal conversations around digital content and engagement? Again, Dre, you wanted to talk about this one?

Unknown Speaker 43:02
Yes, definitely, I will. I have a lot of dreams and hopes and dreams for the value of digital right now. And I think that as we are observing these power dynamics play in full force sometimes, and I am so happy to hear effects of institutions, for example, your institution, Neil, clearly doing wonderful, wonderful, wonderful things. What I will say is that we are facing a major opportunity to engage with people that are struggling by using our best abilities and tools. And right now, unfortunately, because of the way things are, digital happens to be an important interface. And one of our only ways to track if we're being successful if we're making even any sense to be able to create better services for people.

Unknown Speaker 43:53
Just putting in a chat, as well, check out the Europeana impact playbook. It's a resource I've been I've been looking at and trying to implement, and it does help you think about, you know, not just gathering those analytics, but also, you know, how to how to work that sort of evaluation into your digital products, you know, long term. So

Unknown Speaker 44:14
I'd like to add just a little bit under what I hear Andrea saying, it's, I think one of our lessons has been as we we move into new territory, or as we're trying to figure out, I don't know how to distribute a 2000 lunches a day. Like what we're realizing is that we can't do it ourselves. We have to and it doesn't make sense necessarily for us to try to, to establish the kinds of relationships that that that connect us directly necessarily with an audience. There are often community organizations out there who need partners as much as we do. And so we get their expertise. We're supplying something somebody needs and together as a group, now we can serve a In need that neither of us could do separately, that takes creative thinking and work. And you have to go out and learn what's, who's out there. These are organizations that we previously partnered with before, but we, you know, we took it upon ourselves to go find these folks and figure out how could we, you know, grease the wheels so that we could actually accomplish some of these goals, which might have seemed crazy, you know, if we if we didn't have the advantages offered through these collaborations, and I guarantee you, this is not going to stop here, right. Like we're realizing we're stronger together, that we can do more, and that we can scale in ways that we couldn't before.

Unknown Speaker 45:39
And that's, and that's a perfect segue. Well, I mean, you kind of covered our next question, which was really about partnerships and how that's changed for you. So not sure if anyone else wants to wants to add into that I'm gonna dig away for that Europeana impact playbook, because I see some people looking for the further for that in the chat. So

Unknown Speaker 46:03
no interesting partnerships from from anyone else. No. Oh, there we go. Jessica found it for me. Great. So I guess yeah, if we, if we've covered sort of partnerships, I think we're running we got about, you know, just a little under 15 minutes. And I think our our last question is a really big one. And Colorado also asked something similar, and it's really about sort of the future. You know, Zack asked, Have any museum added more digital staff to help with the added workload? And then, you know, our, our our final question is, how do we leverage the new importance of digital? You know, you see all over the sector, lots of people being furloughed, or laid off or terminated outright? So, you know, how do we stop the brain drain in museums laying off digital teams?

Unknown Speaker 46:59
I'm having a start, I will say that evaluation is going to be an important instrument for 2021. And some of the things that you can consider is to start any digital project and set your own. You don't have to have an entire evaluation team. That will be awesome, if you do, but you can put the basics of what is the big idea what is the purpose of this and then experience goals, not just learning outcomes, but also experience goals. And you can use this to compare at the end and track some of that and seek negotiation points. So I will say that all you know, what I hope is what you can hear is that these types of engagements can lead you to, at the end of the day, diversifying the decision making power, I think that, for me, that's my dream for 2021 is who is making the decisions around digital, and especially the fast decisions, the ones that need to happen in this moment. So I hope that we can diversify the decision making power of cultural institution in favor of human centered practices.

Unknown Speaker 48:06
an intro, we're really fortunate we have an amazing visitor research group in the museum. And we run a very iterative development process, but we're very exhibits and exhibitions, that tests with real museum audiences regularly during the development process, so that we can tweak the out comes to make sure that we really aren't delivering on that engagement from visitors. And it we've had that group now for 25 years, I guess. And I can remember what it was like before we had that group and how difficult it was to set that up in the museum. And very occasion that gets called into question and we fight like mad to keep that because it's so fundamental to our practice. We couldn't build the kinds of exhibitions for our visitors that we do without that team of people. Because it keeps us really visitor centered.

Unknown Speaker 49:01
I love all of that. And I'd like to maybe focus a little bit on, I think, an important aspect of Zach's original question. And he talks about added workload. And speaking only from the perspective of my institution, we have literally been run ragged, like everybody else, I'm sure trying to keep up with this and we know we need more staff and we know we can we have the potential to service new audiences in new ways. But as we all know, there's a history and our institutions it's not uncommon for the expectations to exceed the resources that are that are being provided and you know, it's it's a it can be a stressful environment anytime even when you're not under quarantine or or under certain pressures. And so, I I'm hoping everyone is taking their pulse and and paying attention to the self care thing and and really making sure that that we're not arguing for more stuff just to get more work done, we're trying to load balance work so that we can do things and remain smart and sharp about it. And, and, and be effective and not shoot in the dark around this stuff and drive ourselves crazy or ragged doing it.

Unknown Speaker 50:18
And yeah, holding

Unknown Speaker 50:21
or, you know,

Unknown Speaker 50:24
run off to you. I was just gonna say I, you know, I think all of us are going to struggle with getting additional resources at the moment, because ultimately, there's a huge cost to pay for the amount of shutdown we've had. And I think, you know, all organizations are looking at probably becoming leaner for the next few years to pay for that. I think what what it has done is probably made it more difficult to to reduce the size of those digital teams. Because, you know, at one point, it was the only way of reaching out to any kind of audience from the museums. And I think that's been kind of proven really well over the last nine months. So it might protect us from some of the yet the more difficult decisions that they're going to be made over the next six months to a year.

Unknown Speaker 51:14
Yeah, similar for us, I feel like it's really shone a light a really bright light on Yeah, you're not doing anything without digital, the museum simply wouldn't be able to deliver on its vision, if we didn't have this, so there are definitely a couple of teams that are much stronger in terms of their experience, and competency and digital and like Neil said they have we've really been put through the wringer this year, it's been incredibly Yeah, just really huge production, in terms of all these new initiatives in new products, but also, we won't be getting any new staff, but is a very strong support from leadership to expand the digital literacy and fluency across the organization. So instead of having new people because we won't get any more headcount, perhaps for example, the IT team could be doing more project based work and the Help Desk could be distributed amongst teams, or things like that. So really thinking smartly about how the things that people do in their day to day lives. How come you don't do that for your work? How can you rely on someone else to help you reboot your machine or whatever? So yeah, just thinking more smartly about it.

Unknown Speaker 52:33
And now what you saying when we were discussing earlier that you had put other people in the museum making videos for you?

Unknown Speaker 52:42
Yeah, thanks for bringing that up, David. We simply didn't have the resources to produce at the level that we wanted to, even though we have a full time video producer and some backup folks. And so we said to the education department when they came to us and said, we really want to do live streams, we really want to record video, so you can do art at home with us. And just watch our YouTube videos when it's convenient for you. We said well get your phones out. Here's a little primer, here's how you make a video. Here's some free video editing software. And I mean, we did it with good intentions, and but we didn't know what we would get back necessarily. And they blew us away. I mean, very, very quickly, within a week, they were producing really high quality content creatively in ways we wouldn't have thought of doing. And we thought, Okay, here we go, you know, that we're off to the races. And they produced it, do check out our YouTube video, there's there's a ton of great content on there. That's and it's all produced in house by these teams in education. But when we get back to some sort of normal, and they're trying to deal with the workload, or they're in gallery programs that the physical, you know, programs, we get back, how do we sustain that right? How do we keep up that volume? And that's, that's a problem that we're far from solving yet.

Unknown Speaker 53:59
And so that sort of answers a question that Sarah Hill had, that we just just answered in chat is how you're involving your digitally savvy, savvy colleagues to help you. So it's a it's a good news story from Crystal Bridges. And, you know, Deb has also had a question related to the poll that we just shared, where about 75% of you were optimistic about the future of digital. And she asked, you know, do you mean optimistic about the future of full time digital workers in museum staff roles? And I can't remember for our planning sessions where we wanted to go with that. Does anyone? Anyone chime in on that one?

Unknown Speaker 54:37
I mean, I, this is a personal view. I'm kind of optimistic in that, you know, digital has a very permanent role to play in all of our museums. One of the things I began to think for a few years now is is sometimes the way we talk about digital and kind of privilege, it actually is beginning to become an issue. is something that everybody in the museum has a digital element to their role. And actually, I'd like to see us sometimes stop talking about it's digital, it's just work as normal. And digital is a tool to make things happen. And, you know, it's just another tool in the museum's armory of things. And I think sometimes to kind of normalize, some of that conversation might be quite useful.

Unknown Speaker 55:24
Totally agree. And, and we'll just add that, I think as we try to remain nimble in our approach to problems solving as it comes to us, it's incumbent on the digital staff as well as the, quote, non digital staff to not come with any presumptions, right and assume that digital or non digital is an approach that puts pressure on us when we when we find a sweet spot, and we agree and some Venn diagram of solutions. there's a there's a solution here, if, if, how does that scale, and I don't think that means staffing to the maximum so you can be ready at a moment's notice when you make a decision like that we have have to be agile and nimble, and find ways to whether it's through partnerships, or through the support and development of services that are out in the world that we can tap into and afford, in order to take advantage and, and do things in a quicker way. Our Museum, I think is on the verge of walking away from big monolithic quarter million dollar digital projects, boom, right? Like we're, that's, that's just that was a privilege we had in a different moment in time. And now how do we do things in a more lightweight and more agile and nimble way?

Unknown Speaker 56:35
And I think, Neil, you mentioned something earlier about being selective, and it's really about quantity over quality, or, sorry, quality or sorry, and, and so I think, you know, and I really agree with that, I think, you know, it's it's, you know, when, in March, and in April, in the spring, everyone was pushing out all this stuff. And then I noticed a real sort of, you know, step back in the early summer, where everyone just kind of took a deep breath and said, this is not sustainable, you know, how are we going to continue long term. And so I think that's really important to think about, as well as it, you know, is is to not really worry about what everyone else is doing, doing what you need to do for your community should be your main focus. And in my opinion, I see, Andrea unmuted.

Unknown Speaker 57:21
For the final word,

Unknown Speaker 57:22
I want to share a really positive now, I think that that poll came at 75%. Because I actually have so much hope for the field. And I have hope for that field Exactly. Because of who integrates this community of digital. I know, I understand that. We've been overworked to the absolute max in this past few months. But I truly do believe that we can be I think mutual aid is going to be the difference in this next year. I don't necessarily think that is going to be that leadership is going to be transparent and perfect, certainly. But we're going to be supporting each other enough that I believe we're going to keep on building capacity and supporting each other in ways that we can produce better things for communities.

Unknown Speaker 58:06
Really good point, Andrew. Thank you. And I don't know that we have we have one final question in the q&a. I don't know we're gonna be able to get to it. But I think maybe it's something that we can all think about. You know, as we continue with MTN this week, and next and in the months to come is how do you do qualitative research online? So yeah, so something that we can maybe think about and tackle. And I see some more comments in the chat a little bit. There's a note about continuing the conversation in slack. If you're a slack user over over there, just look for the info in the chat. This session is recorded. The transcript will be available afterwards as well. If there's any other housekeeping issues that we need to go over, I'm not sure David or anyone from the MCs team for a wrap up.

Unknown Speaker 59:02
Thanks to all of you for participating, that really appreciate your wisdom and insight into all of this. And thank you to all that much for watching this and looking forward to continuing the conversation.