In the new and expanding digital world accessibility and the experience becomes a more and more important feature. Museums are becoming part of that world through websites and more recently apps. I wanted to research an app of a Caribbean museum and it was not easy to find. I came across the app for the Puerto Rico Museum of Art (MAPR). The Museum opened its doors on June 30, 2000 and has held more than 105 exhibitions since then. It is a magnificent museum, with great permanent collections and moving exhibits. Museums and technology can sometimes have either a very happy marriage. They start out full of excitement and wonder, but you must pay attention to the big and little details. Here is where the relationship worked and when it did not work between the Puerto Rico Museum of Art and its app.
This application has several things going in its favor. It presents a somewhat sleek opening design with elegant images of the Museum and their activities. It very quickly gives the most pertinent information, the location and visiting hours. It has easy access to news of the Museum. It very easily informs the user of museum announcements, such as current and upcoming exhibitions. It has connections to social media. It allows the user to the possibility to upload photos and view videos of museum activities. It does a fine job of creating intrigue of the Museum and its collection. The problem is that is as far as this application goes.
All Honeymoons End…
Although this application is useful it is lacking in many areas. The application serves more as a placeholder for the museum’s website. There is no account for the user experience once he is inside the museum. The application serves more as general information of the museum. These applications are great opportunities for developing user friendly experiences and this application does not do that. The menu for an overview of the exhibitions is not easy to navigate. It feels more like a newspaper website than an application. The last upload of the video section is almost a year old. You can create an account, but after exploring, it does not really change much of what you can do with the app. There is a gallery button, which would be a great opportunity to add some content of the current exhibitions, but it is empty. Unclear if this is an error or if I am meant to upload photos here. The app has no identity, which does not allow it to create a connection with the user. The museum experience is one of exploration this app does little to create that crucial initial intrigue. It does not further expand the experience of the museum, but it does inform.
Counseling (We find out why)
After counseling we find out the root cause of these marital problems. The reason why the honeymoon is ending for the Puerto Rico Museum of Art and its app is largely due to funding. The last video that was uploaded was explaining the devastation after Hurricane Irma and Maria. As is the case for many great collections in the Caribbean funding is always a problem. I really hope funding does arrive for this great museum. An update on the app to enhance the user experience once inside museum itself would be a great addition.