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Singapore’s National Gallery steps into the digital future

Nayela Deeba | March 15, 2017
Kevin Lim, Deputy Director at National Gallery, talks about the Gallery Explorer mobile app as well as the gallery’s other digital efforts to enhance the visitor experience.

To help drive the usage of the app, the gallery will be launching a virtual exhibition called 'Unrealised' this April. The exhibition will require visitors to walk to a specific area in the building in order for an artwork and its details to appear in the Gallery Explorer app, Lim stated. Commissioned to Heman Chong, Ho Tzu Nyen and Erika Tan, the artworks are created specifically for a digital platform, in conversation with the narratives explored through the gallery's long-term exhibitions. 


Improvements to the first mobile app

The National Gallery plans to roll out the second version of the Gallery Explorer app this year to address the shortcomings of the first version and ultimately improve the visitor experience.

For instance, the first version of the app had too many functions that it was confusing for visitors to use. Furthermore, when the app was first deployed, there was poor Wi-Fi connection across the museum. This negatively affects the app as iBeacon requires strong WiFi connection, along with Bluetooth sensing, to accurately direct users. 

"We received feedback [from visitors] that the app experience could be more intuitive, and tweaks could be made to improve assistance for navigation around the gallery. We've [thus] changed two main areas. For the interface design, we simplified it so that it is more user-friendly and manageable for the visitor. As for the backend system, Accenture introduced pre-caching to reduce dependency when the Wi-Fi connectivity is poor," Lim explained.

To further enhance the user experience, National Gallery will leverage Accenture's Analytics Innovation Centre to "mine and analyse data" from the mobile app to find out the usage patterns of the app. "[This] allows the gallery to discover interesting trends, understand visitors' preferences, drive repeat visitorship, and optimise the various aspects of its operations such as crowd management," said Iyer.


Other ways of digitalising the gallery

Lim shared that the gallery is digitalising its other front and back end operations too.

For instance, the gallery worked with Accenture to develop a C-suite dashboard, which collates data from different systems across the gallery (including the Gallery Explorer app) onto an integrated visual decision making tool. "The idea [for this dashboard] isn't simply for easier presentation of data. We needed to allow analysts within the gallery to explore the compiled and correlated data to discover new insights, which would have been difficult without a data virtualisation tool," said Lim.

The gallery is now relying on an artwork management system too, which tags each artwork and tracks where it has been moved to once the exhibition is over. This helps "preserve history" within the gallery and conduct back end research.

Besides that, the gallery offers a social table, which allows visitors to select a desired artwork and see the network of the artists and how they are linked to each other. They can also use social table to create a poster of their favourite artwork and mail it to themselves, Lim said.

Not wanting to rest on its laurels, the National Gallery will continue to be open to collaboration and ideas. "We will continue to pursue any innovation that is right in spirit and has potential," Lim concluded. 


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