What did you do this morning?
I watched the sun rise in Finland, had lunch in Seoul, and wandered for a while in Minneapolis. I would have gone on to a boat somewhere in Iceland, but my phone ran out of battery and Periscope switched off.
Periscope is a kind of giant, free, worldwide Skype – except it’s more surprising, more beautiful, and you don’t have to tell you mum about your week-end when using it. The app connects people from all over the world and gives them a glimpse of what others are seeing. Upon connecting, users choose who’s stream they want to watch on a map and can then wander around the globe from one live broadcasting to the next. Anyone can set up an account and film their surroundings, and the content can be shared on Twitter or archived on a website.
Unlimited audiences, live tours, free access from anywhere in the world… it was only a matter of time before museums heard about Periscope and seized the opportunity to showcase their galleries and connect with their viewers. So far only the British Museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Rubin Museum have started using it for live tours, but the trend is steadily catching on. Tomorrow at 6.30 pm (local time), the Grand Palais in Paris will be live-broadcasting a guided tour of the exhibition Velázquez by its curator. Given the attention the exhibition has already received, the operation is sure to promote the use of Periscope among other cultural institutions.
These museums are playing their cards right, and Periscope is a great way to re-invent guided tours and widen a museum’s audience. However, it shouldn’t stop there. An app that can be operated real-time by one single person, giving access to a worldwide community, could be much, much more than a tour guide.
It could be a way to access a museum’s hidden rooms and archives – think tour of an empty museum or even broadcast of what’s going on backstage during a ballet. If renovations or artworks set-ups were broadcasted on Periscope, it would also be a way to give visitors precious insights about the work that goes on in museums. It could also be a way to connect different institutions around the world, with streams of museums being broadcasted in other museums and visitors interacting with each other. It could even be a regular meeting between a museum and its followers, with people logging in every day during their morning commute to witness the doors of the Palace of Versailles opening or animals in a zoo being fed. Used the right way, it could truly be anything.
I’m off, I have to join friends visiting a temple in Japan.