Third Spaces: Are Apps becoming the virtual orientation between museums and their visitors?


Sofie Andersen, Whitney Museum of American Art, USA , Allegra Burnette, Forrester Research, USA, Koven Smith, Blanton Museum of Art, USA, Tim Svenonius, SFMOMA, USA, Keeli Shaw, Local Projects, USA, Alice Walker, Antenna International, USA, Joe Baskerville, Cogapp, UK

Digital experiences – in particular apps – are increasingly occupying a new realm, a ‘third space’, between the visitors and the museum. Are they also migrating and embracing the role of traditional ‘orientation spaces’ – entrance foyers, centers and entryways and becoming the ‘virtual’ interface for the visitor? If so, what are the challenges when smartphone use in museums isn’t yet as ubiquitous as the wider community? This panel discussion will look at how museums can capitalize on the opportunity to truly inspire new museum experiences, help visitors to co-author their experiences, and consider the challenges with this approach.

Speakers from MOMA, SFMOMA, CogApp and Antenna International will review strategies and challenges for experience design in this separate space from recent projects both physical and virtual; considering how cultural institutions or historic homes can engage visitors through ‘orientation’ experiences; how and when should museum visitors decide on story hierarchies; what kinds of content translates well into Third Space experiences; and ultimately how visitors can best navigate and co–author this encounter with the museum before, during and after a visit.

‘Third space’ case studies will include in-gallery and offsite experiences; Cleveland’s Gallery One, Art Lens iPad and recently launched iPhone app as a newly connected digital eco-system for museum-wide experience navigation; MOMA’s newly launched iPhone and Android Apps, The Hermitage Museum’s app and orientation experience, SFMOMA’s experiences with digital engagement, as well as drawing on statistical analysis across a range of projects from both the museum and commercial sectors from media design firm Local Projects.