Thursday, May 13, 2010

QR codes - connecting galleries to blogs

By Michelle Murdock, Curator of Exhibitions

Are you thinking, “What is this?!” Or maybe you’re thinking, “Wait, where’s my phone?!” Yep, I said phone. For many smartphone users, this funny looking box is a gateway to new learning opportunities. Does that sound too stodgy? How about this – if you have an iPhone or Blackberry or Android, you know that this code can direct you to the coolest stuff you never knew about, and that these codes can be found anywhere from water towers to magazines to cupcakes to museum galleries.

They’re called QR codes – as in quick response. They’re two-dimensional codes that are very similar to barcodes. They can look slightly different depending on the company that created them. The phone applications are varied, too, but the vast majority are free. What does this have to do with our museums? As you can see in the picture above, we are using QR codes in our galleries this year. But let’s back up a sec. Remember our sister blog, American Folk Art @ Cooperstown, run by our VP & Chief Curator Paul D’Ambrosio? Last fall, the Exhibitions team at Fenimore dreamed of bringing our social media efforts into our galleries. We knew that we could run a poll on Paul’s blog, asking readers to vote for their favorite posts and we could then install the artifacts that the posts addressed. But that was kind of boring. Not very innovative. Thankfully, two fellow staff members, Kajsa Sabatke and Erin Crissman, suggested we use QR codes. We jumped on the opportunity to allow our onsite visitors to participate in our online conversations.

Each artifact in the exhibition is accompanied by the original blog post, the original comments associated with that post, and the QR code that directs users to the post itself. We’re encouraging on site visitors to use the codes to link to the comments section and leave their own thoughts about the artifacts and the exhibition.

We also have plans to incorporate more QR codes throughout the museum. The exhibition Watermark: Michele Harvey & Glimmerglass includes a code that links to Michele’s website. The exhibition In Our Time: The World as Seen by Magnum Photographers includes a code for The George Eastman House and Magnum Photographers.

Why are we doing this? Just for fun? Well, sure it’s fun, but of course there’s more to it than that. We believe in giving our visitors every opportunity – whether traditional, innovative, or downright wacky – to use, explore and engage with our collections in ways that they find appropriate and satisfying. What do you think? Let us know!


DDanD said...

Thanks for the intro QR codes. They look to have great potential in museum settings. Your post has set the wheels to turning in my own head to see if there isn't some way for me to capitalize on the utility and "coolness" of QR in my high school library. Like many schools, we wrestle with the "benefits" of students accessing their phones in school. QR might provide a way to illustrate their potential.

blog team said...

Great idea DDanD! We would be interested in hearing how it works out for you.

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