background image
Therefore, not only does this system facilitate specialised tours for every visitor, but the
information gathered by the mobile devices is absolutely invaluable when the museum
performs evaluation studies on its new approaches.
It is possible to `save' a personalised tour by paying a small fee for the museum to burn
the route, information and images about the exhibits viewed, related multimedia resources,
and visitor comments onto a CD or DVD.This provides a further resource (complete
with links to the museum's Web pages and extra worksheets) for exploring the learning
potential of exhibits, even after visitors have returned home.The DVDs prove especially
popular with school field trips, but are also affordable enough to be bought and enjoyed
by families and individuals.
Manuscript exhibition in a library
A library offers an exhibition of precious medieval manuscripts and would like to find
an original and versatile way of popularising them.There are enough manuscripts to fill
both the library's main exhibition space (which consists of a large hall and several smaller
adjoining rooms on the first floor) and a smaller presentation space within the main
entrance hall of the building.
The manuscripts present many different literary, historical and artistic cultures and can
be linked in various relationships. For example, a library visitor might be interested in
manuscripts from a particular period (e.g. Carolingian) and wish to see all the manuscripts
the library holds that are attributed to that period. An art historian might be more interested
in illuminated manuscripts and would like to see only exhibits that include illuminations
depicting agrarian activities.The exhibition manager has established a number of different
views of the collection, but realises he can not predict the likely popularity of each of
these different views and/or interpretative routes. Moreover, the library has some difficulty
in deciding how to arrange the manuscripts in a way that will be most meaningful and
convenient to the majority of visitors.
To solve this problem, the exhibition manager uses his specialist knowledge in conjunction
with the collection metadata in order to identify the themes and associations that are likely
to be the most common. He then begins preparation of an engaging, interpretive path
through the exhibits based on each theme. As the architectural image in medieval manu-
scripts is one of the central topics of the exhibition, the corresponding viewing order
follows exhibits with images related to this topic. Another order describes a specialised
history of the collection and of the library itself as users view manuscripts based on date
of acquisition. Other routes likely to be popular are viewing the manuscripts according to
the date of their creation, subject, and origin.
The exhibition manager commissions full textual commentaries for these five sequential
views of exhibits, and sources complementary material for the exhibits such as contem-
porary music from the time. He uses mapping software to try out different arrangements
of exhibits in the space available, plotting paths based on the five major themes. Eventually
an arrangement for the manuscripts is finalised, laid out in such as way that the most
likely routes are convenient, accessible and do not involve too much `doubling back' for
the visitors.
When the exhibition opens, the library allows visitors to borrow a PDA on which they
can download the floor plans of the exhibition via the touchscreen and stylus.Visitors can
also use their own devices, registering at the reception desk before receiving information
from the beam station in the entrance hall space.The PDA interface encourages users to
Mobile Access to
Cultural Information
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