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Recap: Museums and the Web 2017 in Cleveland.

We had an inspiring and productive week at the Museums and the Web Annual Conference hosted in Cleveland this past weekend. It’s always great to see familiar friends and colleagues and even better to make new ones! Our itinerary this year was jam-packed: we were in the Expo Hall, speaking, and demonstrating.

For the conference’s opening night, we brought along a team member from The Oriental Institute Museum to showcase their new mobile app during the demonstration session. Attendees came and talked to us about the museum’s content, why a mobile app is the perfect way to offer their visitors additional media, and how easy it is for museum staff to create tours in the Encurate Content Management System. We met some awesome people from similar institutions: smaller museums that aren’t able to offer WIFI to their visitors and who are looking for an affordable way to provide a new experience to their visitor. It’s great to be able to chat with professionals from around the world about similar challenges they’re facing and share solutions!

Chief Curator of the OIM chats with attendees during the demonstration.

On Saturday morning our Chief Curatorial Officer was part of a panel of speakers participating in the BYOD Debate, a lively and fun discussion debating the statement: Bring Your Own Device has failed museums. The audience’s overwhelming majority disagreed with this statement (as do we!). It was great to discuss the challenges museums face, and some solutions, when offering a mobile app to serve visitors who bring their own device. Here are a few points we made during the debate:

  • Over 80% of Americans own a smartphone as of 2016, and the number continues to grow. (comScore, Feb 2017)

  • There’s no question that visitors are bringing their devices when they come to the museum.

  • Unlike traditional audio guides, mobile apps provide visitors with other useful tools for their visit, like interactive maps and museum information.

After wrapping up the conference Saturday evening, it was clear from discussions, presentations, and interactions with peers and colleagues that mobile apps are a big part of the future of museum experiences. We’re excited to continue to help museums by powering their mobile apps and helping provide solutions to some of the challenges that many institutions face when they’re ready to create an app. If we missed you in Cleveland, we hope we’ll see you in St. Louis at AAM to keep this conversation going!

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