CloudGuide's Blog

The Public of Culture

BY Azucena Lozano

This month we have chosen "The Audiences on Culture" as main topic  for our Talks on Culture .

We have invited two professionals who know very well the situation and the challenges that both public and private institutions are facing today, and how they manage the new requirements of their audiences, who are changing in an increasingly fast way. We met Jaume Colomer, a true benchmark in Spanish and Latin performing arts, who kindly answered our questions in a video interview that we will upload shortly. Later, we were glad to have a short talk with Lina Ubero, Public Programs Chief in Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona, who helped u understand how a big museum like Museu Blau, a doyen of the Catalan museums, has reshaped their strategy to reach their audiences in the best way.

We met  Lina in a room in Museu Blau, a building that is a lightspot in the middle of the nest of the emblematic constructions raised in Fòrum, Barcelona. From the main entrance, the famous whale that atranded 150 years ago in Llançà beach, named Brava in a popular vote, is presiding the stairs and welcomes us. This is a tradition shared with many other science museums around the world. Brava plunges us in the different stories to be discovered in Museu Blau, an adventure for kids and families!

1. The Natural Science Museum of Barcelona is one of the few institutions to have a specific department for Public Programs so it is possible there are people who do not know what they do from there...Tell us a little bit about that.

In fact there are other museums with a department like ours but maybe they use another name. In our case, we are in charge of every field and topic related to the public attention, so we have different areas: communication, activities, exhibitions and public attention. This team collects and receives all the information to send it off tho the other departments which, after a period of reflexion, will stablish the programs that will be developed for the publics but also for the non-publics.

2. In 2006 you were in a work group about Heritage and Culture Plan in Barcelona where one of the main conclusions was that 'we do not know our publics. There is a lack of serious studies'. Has the situation of the public museums been improved, after  10 years?

Fortunately, we have a complete diferent scene. There is lots of information and we have collected a huge amount of knowledge, but now the problem is what to do with all this data in order to be able to  extract relevant conclusions we can use to elaborate the museum programs. Nowadays, we are equal to any other European institution in the way we collect info. Although I think it is common that most of the knowledge public departments have doesn't arrive to the rest of departments. Decisions are taken without taking that all into account because the structure of the museums is not working in cross cutting manner. The challenge is now how to put those exhaustive studies into practice.

3. The Museum Blau is defined as a 'local institution located in the fringes of the city'. As you have three locations, the Botanical Garden, the Historical Garden and the Museu Blau, do you  find different visitors profiles?

We are lucky to have a great diversity of visitors. In addition to the paying visitors, there is an important number of reserchers and collaborators in Ciutadella, where we have the Documentation Center and a big part of our main collection. These scientists are not included as 'public' but they provide a really significant amount of knowledge, and are considered a main role players for the museum objetives.

Futhermore, 68% of the visitors in the Botanic Gardens are tourists, people not living in Barcelona, adults traveling alone or with no kids. This figure is completely different in Museu Blau, where we have a 72% of family visitors with a high cultural level looking for quality and excellence. They want that 'something more' that an amusement park cannot bring them.

But we are also a local museum located in the northern area of the city, where there is a great diversity of nacionalities, a high rate of unemployment and a slightly high average age. Besides, this area of Barcelona didn't have any cultural facility, no public libraries or civic centres until 1995. And obviously no museum either, until Museu Blau opened its doors. It was a slow process to arrive to the people in the neighbourhood, who started to arrive mostly in the weekends. And finally, we have many school visits from Monday to Friday.

4. The Natural Sciences Museum is more than 130  years old so you have faced many changes in response to the challenging new requirements of a society in continuous evolution. How did you manage the digital challenge?

We didn't have this building four years ago. When we moved here, we decided to use technology in a rational manner: we thought we should use the resources to help our reserchers to have instant updates of the scientific data, so now our visitors have the same complete access to that relevant info than the scientists.

As an example, our exhibition 'Planeta Vida' which can be thought of from thousands of diferent points of views, uses technology in this rational way that I just described. We know that the most engaging way to get to our visitors is using an emotional approach, so we consider media, objects or even the empathy of the mediator to achieve some kind of connection.

5. The young and family audiences are one of your strongest target. Tell me about the way you motivate them.

When we opened this museum four years ago we created a new project called 'Science Nest' to improve the access of children under 6, who are not well attended in museums. We imagined a space which would work as an activities generator, a tool for the youngest audiences that has become one of the strongest points in our cultural offering, as it is growing with the suggestions and ideas of the kids themselves. As a living project it may include new activities or pedagogical sources together with the museum discourse: Science Nest is growing thanks to the work developed by the museum and the children, as a team. We are really proud of this project 'Born for Science'.

6. This year you are opening a new webpage and a new global app, CloudGuide. Which are your expectations for every media? Are you thinking of the different users each of them will have?

I Think CloudGuide is a great project because of the institutions connecting through it, but also because audiences are able to link us leaving comments in social media, tagging and so on. An app is a young channel for digital communication and we have more than 379.000 online visitors per year. This is a very important figure.

7. The last question is made for you as a user... What do you expect from CloudGuide?

I'm not a good model I think (laughs). When I download an app in a museum, I do it as a professional, from a technical point of view. I personally love audioguides, but also apps, because I'm interested on how they approach their audiences in a different way. That is why I welcome the apps which go beyond audioguides. I think millenials would change radically the cultural scene , as they are demanding gamification, augmented reality, beacons, image recognition and so on. It is true that our context is quite different to the anglosaxon scene and may be we need to grow more in that way...I have collegues that are in love with apps, as they know the future will go in that way.

8. Would you like to add something else?

I would remark on how important are the audiences. We must let them know that they are essential, that their participation and collaboration is imperative. And our constant requirements for them to fill the form are a must to help our programs to get better. We are committed to them, and to achieve a living museum for the common heritage of the comminities.

Museums at Night 2015

BY Azu Lozano Iriondo


Museums at Night is an international yearly event that happens simultaneously in more than 40 countries. All kind of cultural institutions open doors to offer not only exhibitions but a whole range of activities specially designed for families, teenagers and of course, those who are particularly devoted to art circuits. This is a highlighted item in the current agenda of museums and related institutions.

The response among the public keeps doing really well and it is not strange to find  long lines of people queuing for more than half an hour but, instead of considering that displeasure a problem, when they are ask for reasons why they are standing for such a long time at the museum entrance, they seldom recognize free prizes are a motivation. And that is a key point: prize is not the reason why they are visiting a museum.

This weekend we were celebrating the 11th edition of this event fostered by the European Council and, as we could check in Barcelona, it is not running out of steam, not even by a long shot. According to official sources, there were more than 150 thousand people visiting the 81 city institutions joining the iniciative with 13 new cultural centres which were opening doors to activities, workshops and other events specially designed for this occasion. The general playful spirit came to show that engaging culture is not only entertainment but an open call to  citizens to participate.

Visiting that emblematic or maybe secret monumental site that we always leave for a better moment  and above all, the fact of doing that all with other people is a really good way to get together in a friendly, suggestive and creative enviroment. If we think on measuring the results of Museums at Night, beyond great rates of participation, there are voices of visitors claiming that they really have fun. And that is, for sure, a wake-up call to those who believe that museums are boring.

Tereza Grandicova TBA21, speaks on new media...and CloudGuide

BY Azucena Lozano

In our daily work it is essential to keep constantly in touch with our partner institutions. TBA21 is one of those who makes this dialogue easy and pleasant because we share common visions and objectives as we both are aware of what on-site or virtual audiences are needing.   Our commitment  to provide an excellent experience related to culture and art lead us to build meaningful activities specially designed to enrich the exhibition proposals.

Some weeks ago, our museums manager in Austria and Germany, Rocio Burchard met Tereza Grandičová to have a little talk about digital strategies in TBA21, the way  communities are being created around the institution and, of course, her experience with CloudGuide as a global digital channel.

Here it comes.

Ro: Could you introduce yourself, what is your position and your tasks at TBA21?

Tereza: I am mostly working for the marketing department, supporting all the other departments on like graphical or little bit technical base of the graphic programs, and than on all these digital forms and trying to implement new medias and new platforms and yeah, working little bit also a with videos, sometimes also with the picture archive and and than recording of the, many things, many things

R: What happens if a museum enters the digital world? What changes?

Tereza: We just today we had the discussion (...) us from the kind of x generation we already kind of see these like 3d/4d possibility of digital things, definitely that is like crossing boarders, nations and all these things, that you can do these things remotely in your bed, in your comfortable zone but also than if you are in the place it gives you completely different experience, like not the opportunity of use the things remotely but the element of digitally use in the ordinary visit, visiting experience, visitor experience, and of course its little bit, I quiet like these, this incorporate, that suddenly the museum guest, can cooperate much more obvious, or you know, the references are clearer because there could be really linked in certain art platforms or, I mean for somebody like the google art projects, that opened completely different idea of researching in private collections, or in collections in general, all this virtual exhibitions, you know and these things.

How is it to implement it?

T: Oh its really hard, if you want to know my private opinion its super hard, because most of the people don't see it yet as something very practical, when they have time they do these things, but if you are at the exhibition there are so many other elements, that you go there with friends, so thats I think that people still have to get used to, that I think still, people can imagin the remote access but I think it is hard to convince them to use the things in there, but from our experience in Augarten, when they do that, they are happy then, they find like very useful, they get more information and it is also hard to convince that the members of the team, like "this is really cool guys, you have to do that because thats really completely opening a different window", yeah it will come

R: How is the feedback in the team?

T: Just like, some people come, I tried and it is really nice and it is really exciting, but most of them didn't really test it, no one has really time, to take the tour maybe, it's like yeah it works, nice images, they are happy if something is working, that they get good feedback, and they don't need to bother with other things, or of course the older generation is not used to these things and they cannot even imagine that and also like its, some people really have a approach to digital things, like me as total mobile device, freak, that I am always testing platforms and I am happy to move the boarders, in this way, thats easy for me than I guess for someone else

R:  How do you think would you have to communicate this devices?

T: I thougth that maybe the different wording might help, because this "APP" is little bit annoying, because in this days everyone has "app" because it is so cool and so important to have but there is not the functionality communicated in the title, so I thought that the main idea behind the CloudGuide is that we want give more information so it means like guide them through in a different way. It is also really important that the guys in the Augarten communicate it and tell the people "hey look" the CloudGuide, you can listen to it and look at the pictures (refers to closeups)

Ro: Do you think it influences in the way the experience the exhibition?

Te: I think it is very helpful, as you can listen to it and look at the same time at the exhibits. You don't have to look through the booklet while you are looking at the artwork. Also people have the chance to look at it before they come. We also have a big community in New York that follows tba21 but cannot come to the exhibitions, with the Guide they have the chance now to see it too, what they did not have before. You also can look at many pictures (refering to detail images for exhibits)

Ro: What is your personal experience with digital channels, also Twitter, Facebook and now CloudGuide, lets say with this triangulation?

Te: With these you cannot only share info, but share also something more personal, you can use it to tell something else (comparison with someone who uses it to share). Also if you are not very much into reading a lot, it is very helpful, to have an overview, you can easily follow

R: How is it to work with CloudGuide?

T: Fabulous (loughs). It is great that it is outsourced, we don't have to take care of the technical stuff, to be updated, there are options which are on the one hand quiet expensive and very hard to.. well you can ask a company to do a mobile device for you but than, its so hard to decide on the headway of communication, on the stuff you want to communicate and many times its kind of overlapping with the website information so it doesn't actually bring the aspect, the additional experience, that anyway its just another text that you can read and than of course at a certain point the external company would step away and you would have to keep updated the technologies and all which is all very simple, and the research on the needs and on the analytics and things like that that thats like absolutely helpful that the CloudGuide does it for us.

And second of all its not an ordinary app, its not like an additional thing, its a thing what, I mean like either you could take it or not take it, so its additional, but how to say it, its actually something if you want it can,(...) some of these apps what I tested, yes always there is something interesting, but then its like, it doesn't help you to experience the exhibition.Iits more like a taking time and yeah, but this might help, in in the orientation, it is easy to navigate through the exhibition space because the people see the pictures, you don't always have, wall texts or anything, especially in Augarten where we are not so much for wall captions, yeah whatever

Ro: Is there something you are missing or what you would like to have improved, I mean it is an ongoing process but?

Te: I think that maybe, but I think that is something that will be solve with another version in few months, (...) but I can imagine that somethings could be more intuitive, this kind of like smooth movements through, its just. Maybe I don't find that important the giving opinion, I think the liking button its cool because thats something people are used to these days. I am curious if we will get some opinion, so far no one gave us any written feedback. Maybe I could imagine that it would be maybe good for students, that is connected more with other ordinary app, like dropbox, where you can share it, or save stuff, or if they even know they could synchronize it, if you leave a note, if you could synchronize it with some other source, what I use a lot is evernote and so of course it would you limit you again if you are used to write notes in a different app, why would you do it with the CloudGuide if you to distract from there, maybe an integration with other and than the rest. I think that some of the images have law quality, but we discussed this already, you remember...

First street-art tourguide

BY Aina Soler

Never seen Street-Art in a Monastery? 

In 2012, 12 international urban/graffiti artists from 6 different countries sprayed and painted 1000 qm of walls in the Monastery St. Ottilien in the middle of Bavaria: A project initiated by the art association Vis-á-Vis in cooperation with the Gallery St. Ottilien.

Check out our Street-Art Tourguide to the project Heaven meets Earth here:

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Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte
Techstars Paris