We developed ASK based on the premise (determined by over a year’s worth of pilot projects) that our visitors want to talk about art with us; they want recommendations; and they wanted their questions answered in a personal and dynamic way. But what does that really mean? How does that work in practice? In short, HOW do you facilitate engagement around art via what’s basically text messaging?
Over the course of a very exciting and whirlwind span of about eight months, our ASK team—at the time lead by Monica Marino—searched for answers to that very question. Through experimentation, conversation, a lot of trial-and-error with test groups, and continued examination now that the app is live, we have been able to codify this previously nebulous idea in the form of a training manual (authored by Monica) and through this process better define what ASK is all about. For example, we are able to define the main functions of ASK:
We have also determined four engagement goals for the app. We aim to hit at least two with every conversation, and if we hit all four, it feels like we won the lottery (hopefully visitors feel the same way and based on reviews, we think they do!):
Although we have these goals set down, we’re not content to just hum along. As our manual says, ASK is an on-going experiment and we’re always looking for ways to grow and improve. As part of this process, we’ve begun workshops with our Education staff in order to get feedback on ways to improve and ensure that ASK aligns with our overall engagements goals as a Museum.
The first workshop included having Education staff use the app in the galleries and also answer questions via the dashboard so that have they some context for providing feedback. Our next workshop will delve into the nitty-gritty of engagement, reviewing goals and best practices for engagement that may or may not translate from in-person gallery teaching to the app.
As I hinted at at the beginning of this post, Monica is no longer our team lead (though we’re happy she’s still with BKM, just in a different role) and are delighted that Jessica Murphy, previous team member, has taken over that role. You’ll hear from Jessica in our next post about how the ASK team spends their time.
Sara Devine joined the Brooklyn Museum as Manager of Interpretive Materials in 2011 and is now Director of Visitor Experience & Engagement. A vocal visitor advocate, her expertise lies in crafting accessible and engaging visitor experiences and reaching audiences across platforms. She works with curators, designers, educators, technologists, and editors on all aspects of visitor experience and engagement. Sara is also a visiting assistant professor and curriculum coordinator at Pratt Institute’s School of Information for their graduate program in Museums and Digital Culture. She was previously Senior Content Developer and Project Manager at Hilferty, a museum planning and design firm in Ohio, where she developed comprehensive interpretive master plans and exhibitions for a wide variety of museums. She has also worked at Assistant Curator, Special Exhibition at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and as a Curatorial Assistant at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.