Getting to know Vincent: best practices in creating a new multimedia tour experience for the Van Gogh Museum (Booth 5)

Marthe de Vet, Van Gogh Museum, The Netherlands, Pieter 't Hart, Van Gogh Museum, The Netherlands

The permanent exhibition in the Van Gogh Museum was due to renewal. The museum wants to present the permanent collection in a fresh new way and provide an innovative overview of the life and work of Vincent van Gogh, presented in context with his predecessors, contemporaries and followers.

As a result the educational programme including a multimedia tour should also be renewed. The tour used to be fully outsourced. The museum wanted a new, sustainable organizational structure for the tour to embed it better in its total strategy.

We decided not to start with just developing a new tour, but to look at the whole ‘ecosystem’ around the multimedia tour, including propositioning, handling, device and marketing. If we wanted to improve long-term only a better multimedia tour just wasn’t the answer.

Decided was to create a three year program in which the multimedia tour experience would contribute to professionalisation of the museum.

For the new tour the VGM has contracted a mix of multidisciplinary companies, national and international.

We will share lessons learned in our journey creating the new Van Gogh Museum multimedia experience. The following issues will be addressed:
• creating a new concept for a multimedia tour as part of the total digital landscape: not just an educational tool
* carry out ongoing research to deliver user centred design
• working with different companies from different countries with different expertise: strenghts and pitfalls
• introducing the multimedia tour as part of a complete museum service: joint effort of all departments
• creating a higher pick-up rate. What works and what not?
• involving the audience in the development: testing, testing, testing
• results: defining a evaluation framework, meeting the objectives, creating internal ownership
• lessons learned and next steps for the coming 2 years

A. Webb, L. Mann, Listening to Visitors: Research Findings on mobile Content. Museums&Web 2014.
J. Alexander, Gallery One. The fist Year. Sustainability, Evaluation Process and a new Smart Phone App. Museums&Web 2014.
J. Falk, Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience, Left Coast Press 2009
L. Van de Wiel, S. Brocx, “Emotion and inspiration at the Van Gogh Museum: How emotion-based visitor research can create engaging brand experiences.” Esomar. 2013

We based our choices more on asking questions to colleagues, than on published literature.
Thanks to talks to colleagues and visits of numerous museums who were willing to share insight information about their efforts to create a (better) multimediatour, including SF Moma, Cleveland Museum of Art, MOMA, National Gallery Londen, MFA Boston, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, IMA, Louvre, Natural History Museum N.Y., Tate Modern, Rijksmuseum, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Getty, European Parliament Brussels and many others. Their experience gave us the courage to take the difficult road and look at the overall strategy instead of creating 'just another great tour'.