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tions and offices of the Finnish Society of Crafts and Design in the other. Athena, the
goddess of arts and crafts, was a natural patron for the museum.
Today, the Ateneum's role is expanding and becoming increasingly diverse. In addition
to housing the Museum of Finnish Art, it now accommodates the Central Art Archives, a
photography collection, a press archive, a specialist art library and Conservation and
Education units.The last of these has the responsibility for workshops, the auditorium,
and general educational projects.
The starting point for the program called In Touch with the Ateneum was the desire to
create a multimedia tool which could offer different insights into the visual arts.This
should be usable for as many museum visitors as possible, regardless of their skills, back-
grounds and levels of computer literacy.The purpose of the team was to build a multime-
dia program that was content-rich, multi-modal, accessible, conformant with the Design
for All principles, and which supported different kinds of learning styles and information.
The team included two principal members who created the core content, one graphic
designer, one sound designer, one programmer and one accessibility consultant.
Multimedia kiosks were chosen for the delivery of the programme, each of which fea-
tured magnifying glasses for the partially sighted, headphones and an induction loop for
those with hearing impairments, and a `pointing stick' for people with manual dexterity
difficulties.The touchscreen interface, explained Riikka Haapalainen, Researcher at the
gallery's Art Museum Development department, is easy to use but still has a sense of
adventure. Strong emphasis was placed on accessibility and enjoyment for all users.
To begin with, the team conducted a small-scale survey on the questions, comments
and problems of the museum's visitors. Guides and guards working in the exhibition halls
were asked to keep a diary on their everyday interactions with visitors.This data sup-
ported the planning process and created a loose structure for the content of the program.
The multimedia program itself was compiled using Macromedia's Director program.To
increase user-friendliness, the content was conveyed through various senses.
For example, the visually impaired may find the sound facilities helpful, and the texts
featured in the program could be listened to using headphones. Other sounds support
and enliven the visual features and create the right atmosphere for storytelling. Special
attention was paid in the graphic design to keeping the program's visual appearance calm
and clear.To ensure easy use for everyone, the elements were designed to stand well out
from the background, a sufficiently large and discernible typeface was used, and the pro-
gram proceeded in a logical fashion.The texts were written simply, observing the princi-
ples of easy-to-read language.
Special attention was paid to present on-going work on the project, including sketches
and ideas from various personnel of the Finnish National Gallery and Ateneum Art Mu-
seum.This helped people across the entire organisation realise the importance and value
of such input, at least in theory. In addition, just before the program was launched the
team working on it arranged an internal briefing on the new multimedia kiosks and con-
ducted a small training session for the museum guards about the content and use of the
program, including what to do and who to inform in the event of the computer crashing.
The major obstacles met during the development and implementation of the program
were how to organise continuous content management and development, activities that
required uninterrupted budgeting, and the general maintenance of the program. Even
after the program had been presented to the public, it still needed updating with
improvements and new content.This clearly illustrated the fact that major programs are
likely to require an organisation-wide commitment for many years.
Human Interfaces