“Museum apps are really hard to get right. Mia’s app is a beautiful, useful tool that complements the visitor’s journey.” —juror Libby Bawcombe
“The struggle is real. This smart app solves the ‘encyclopedic museum’ problem with playlists that make a broad collection feel manageable and personal.” —juror Ben Hughes
Overview: Art museums have long served as epicenters of cultural heritage, but in recent years, new competition for our time and attention has arisen in the never-ending stream of digital diversions. To reengage the public with the permanent collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) on the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the Mia Journeys app helps modernize how the public interacts with museums. Designed as a way to get members to visit and to look up and engage with art they might not otherwise have sought out, Mia Journeys enables users to personally curate and share museum trips that are both relevant and rewarding.
•The app provides a new, more adventurous way to experience the nearly eight-acre museum campus.
•Mia Journeys is part of a three-museum consortium experimenting with free membership in exchange for increased insight into member experience.
•A five-person team completed the project in four months.
Comments by Todd Zerger:
How many videos, images and other media elements does the project have? “The Journeys app supports an infinitely expanding set of media, including images, videos, audio, maps and loyalty promotions. Additions come as the museum develops deeper content in support of each piece of artwork. Currently, the app supports the entire visible collection—though this represents approximately 20 percent of Mia’s holdings. The app’s intent is not to capture and hold the attention of users, but to propel them through the museum, where they can enjoy and engage with the art itself.”
Were there any specific demands that made the project easier or harder? “The use of wayfinding technology like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth inside an enormous, three-story, marble-and-granite building proved to be a challenge. Any technology like infrared that might jeopardize the art was obviously not an option. We worked around it strategically, but hope to be able to revisit wayfinding as indoor GPS technology evolves.”
What was the response? “We are still awaiting a clear sense of the results in terms of data, but initial interest has been encouraging. Evaluation of the results will be based on data gathered from members’ usage of the app, app store downloads and social engagement among other sources. In addition to the intrinsic appeal of digital engagement and making deeper information available, there are plans for incentives; for example, discounts at the museum store or café based on aspects of a journey, like duration and location.”