How long does it take to clean a still huge whale model? Who are the archaeologists that uncovered your favorite exhibit? Is a polar bear closer to a koala or to a human baby? Those are only some of the questions that Explorer, the app the American Museum of Natural History just updated last month, will give you the answer to.
The app was designed with young and teen audiences in mind: just as their everyday apps offer a seamless mobile experience, Explore is built around content that is both fun and informative and highlighted by great UX.
In a museum that can seem as overwhelmingly huge as the American Museum of Natural History does, a good guide is one that tells you about exhibits, but also helps you choose what you will see and helps you get there. And that is exactly what happens as soon as a visitor opens the app for the first time: If you do it yourself, you will be asked to turn Bluetooth on so you can be localized in the museum thanks to the 700 beacons and to choose your interest from a list of around twenty (including snacks and shops).
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You will then scroll through major exhibits and points of interest that fit your choices and are either displayed as a list or as a map. The app will show you the way to the ones you want to see and give you information about both the exhibit in their natural context and in the museum context: fun facts, history, pop culture and behind the scenes provide information in a way that is easy to understand for everyone. As the AMNH frames it, the app is “like having a curator on your shoulder”, a very pedagogic one that wants you to have fun thanks to content that fits an era of content snacking but still finds ways to make you look at the exhibits to really enjoy the museum – two augmented reality games even let you play and interact with bears and dinosaurs.
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The app has already been downloaded more than 100,000 times on Google Play (and is also available on the App Store, which does not make such figures available), which is much more that most museum apps out there. If the visitor experience is important, the fact that the content is fully enjoyable outside of the museum also is key. Quizzes, videos and sound are easy to scroll through wherever you are to learn a bit about birds, apes and mosquitoes and prepare your visit, tickets to the American Museum of Natural History being just a click away. Explore makes the most of our everyday mobile habits to highlight the museum… and it’s a real pleasure to use.
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