Museum Tablet Tour (2014)


From 2012 to 2014, I served as a Graduate Assistant for the Binghamton University Art Museum. Together with Dr. Diane Butler, Museum Director, and Silvia Ivanova, Registrar and Director of Education, to plan, fund, and implement a visible storage display with an interactive digital component. I was privileged to create the digital tablet tour in Filemaker Pro Advanced 12 with mentorship by Tom Blake of Binghamton University Information Technology Services, who continues to provide ongoing support for the tour.

The tablet tour we designed had several goals:

  • to be accessible to those at all levels of technological competency, visual acuity, and dexterity (e.g. children and senior visitors)
  • to employ visual navigation
  • to be easily updated in the future by museum staff if objects in cabinet are changed
  • to provide opportunities for students who studied the objects to contribute to the display

Below are some screenshots and a summary of how I was able to achieve these goals.

 

 

ArtMus-1

 On the opening page, visitors can choose to browse the cases by clicking on the photo or on text buttons, or choose a theme to explore.

ArtMus-5

 I chose themes which drew together objects from cultures and time periods otherwise assumed to be dissimilar, displayed apart from each other in the geographically-organized room. Clicking a theme button brings the user to a page of ten randomly selected objects coded with that theme. Each of these records can be clicked for more information.

ArtMus-6

Navigation continues with closer and closer shots of the cabinets. Visitors touch where they want to zoom in. Once at an individual cabinet, the visitor clicks an object and ends up on this page. If a visitor clicks an object on a theme page, they’ll navigate to this page as well.

On the back end, this is a layout which displays information from a database of all the objects in the cabinets. When a visitor clicks a button leading to this page, the program is told which object to find in the database and displays it here.

At the bottom of the page is a button which gives visitors the option to read student-authored labels for this object. These are written from a variety of perspectives, from creative writing to art history to archaeology. Student researchers are being encouraged by the museum through presentations in classes, projects coordinated with professors, and as professional development for students interested in museum careers.

The tour was saved as a Kiosk, limiting visitor access to only the layouts intended to be navigated by the public. It was then loaded on two iPads and is opened using Filemaker Go.

I also created several basic layouts that allow museum staff not versed in Filemaker use to view and edit the records in the database.

ArtMus-10a

 

ArtMus-10b

One of the more difficult tasks to complete in this process was searching for related objects based on our criteria and populating thumbnails on the object view page to display them. Museum staff may want to change the related objects as time goes on, or re-populate them when many of the objects in the cases change. Therefore I created a page to view and edit these related objects which visualizes the way the algorithm works.

ArtMus-8a

ArtMus-8b

Furthermore, if themes change, the theme description can be easily edited and it will automatically change on the theme list page. Creating a new theme would only require adding a new entry to the table, but the main concern identified was the wording of the theme descriptions. This way, unintended creation of themes will not impact the organization of the tour.

ArtMus-1l