Met and other museums are investing in technologies to make the museum experience more interactive, even working with the smartphones that guests carry with them. The Met has a staff of 70 in the digital-media department, and 70 more handling tech hardware in general. Rather than fighting Facebook and YouTube, it’s acknowledging that services like Snapchat are the new culture. The Met’s mission is finding a way to fit in alongside them.
Like many major museums, it’s exploring ways to deliver the interactive experience. With Wi-Fi throughout the building, guests can access the Met’s mobile app for more information and audio guides, while at the same time uploading images to Instagram. It’s experimenting with emerging technologies like iBeacon and even augmented reality. (Sreenivasan demoed an AR smartphone app called Blippar that animated a painting when he placed his iPhone in front of it.) It’s putting up its 2,600 audio messages for free online. The digital-media team is developing special digital content that talks about how the museum repairs damaged art. All these are just some of the new digital endeavors museums are embarking on, following projects like digitizing their collections and installing video displays — and all to get people back inside the museums.
Despite Sreenivasan’s encouraging us to take lots of selfies, he quickly reminded us that selfie sticks are banned. “I am pro selfie, but not the selfie stick,” Sreenivasan says.