institution: M+, West Kowloon Cultural District
category: Exhibition Media or Experience
M+ Sigg Collection: Four Decades of Chinese Contemporary Art
22 February– 5 April 2016
ArtisTree, Hong Kong
M+ is the new museum for visual culture in Hong Kong, as part of West Kowloon Cultural District, focusing on 20th and 21st century art, design and architecture and moving image from Hong Kong, China, Asia and beyond.
Since 2012, M+ has been presenting diverse public programmes and exhibitions, and is building a permanent collection, in the run-up to the scheduled 2019 opening of the museum building designed by Herzog & de Meuron with TFP Farrells and Ove Arup & Partners HK.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
• ‘M+ Sigg Collection: Four Decades of Chinese Contemporary Art’ is the first-ever chronological exhibition about the emergence of Chinese contemporary art.
• Comprising more than eighty works by fifty artists – including Ai Weiwei, Fang Lijun, Geng Jianyi, Huang Yong Ping, Zhang Peili, and Zhang Xiaogang – the exhibition shows both the development of Chinese contemporary art and a glimpse of the collection that will be on display when the M+ building opens in 2019.
• For this exhibition, M+ has selected from its M+ Sigg Collection seminal works of painting, sculpture, photography, performance documentation, video and installation to illustrate the evolution of Chinese contemporary art – from its inception at the end of the Cultural Revolution up to today’s vibrant art scene.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
• The idea of developing an exhibition guide came from a discussion between Kingsley Jayasekera, our Director of Marketing & Customer Experience and Lars Nittve, former M+ Executive Director.
• Originally the idea is to test out the iBeacon technology and digital guide in a smaller scale to help us decide whether to use traditional audio guide or digital app in the future museum, taken into account the public’s behaviour and acceptance.
• Realising this exhibition will probably be the last M+ exhibition in such scale before the opening of the museum building, and also with similar pedestrian flow as the future museum, management team decided to expand this idea into a much larger scale so to gain all the valuable insights which otherwise will have to wait until 2019.
• So we, the Digital Marketing team have been given the task to design and develop a world class, full digital exhibition guide with beautiful UI design, well thought out user experience and journeys, rich content, iBeacon enabled, multilingual mobile app that can support users own devices or rental devices in two months’ time.
• The M+ Sigg Collection Exhibition Guide is the first exhibition app using iBeacon technology in large scale temporary exhibition in Hong Kong, and probably one of the first in the world.
• Enhance visitor’s exhibition touring experience by providing contextual, multimedia information, delivered in an artistic and user-friendly way
• Facilitate visitors to retrieve artwork information instantly and easily using iBeacon location based technology, without a lot of clicking or interaction with the phone
• Deliver a total, seamless experience from pre-visit, inside the exhibition and post-visit phases
• Provide an in-depth layer about the exhibition and highlighted exhibits with curator’s audio descriptions and artist’s interviews
• Leverage on social media sharing to arouse other social media users’ interests and hence encourage more new visits
• Test out visitor’s behaviour and habits by providing multiple options on devices rental and app download platforms
• Provide comprehensive yet personalised information to different types of users, including digital savvy smartphone users, traditional exhibition goers that are used to renting audio guides, family and kids, visual impaired etc.
• Evaluate the effectiveness of the digital guide, iBeacon usage, exhibition/exhibit/visitor statistics etc. with real-time dashboard and reporting tools
• Learn about the user digital and on-site behavior for improving user-experience in the future M+ museum
• Enhance M+’s brand awareness and its international vision on design and digital experience
We believe the key success factor for this project is all about Customer Experience. Therefore apart from taking care of the technology, design and content, we place great emphasize and spent most of our efforts on enhancing visitors before, during and after event experience. To us, this app is more than just an on-site exhibition guide, it actually becomes our marketing tool and also your personal guide throughout the whole journey.
/ Pre Event
• For first time download, people can preview 15 artworks (with audio/video) to get a taste of the exhibition.
• You can also watch the introduction video by Lars Nittve and Uli Sigg, or scroll through the timeline to understand more about the background and importance of this exhibition.
• The digital guide not only provide background information and directions to the exhibition, it also serves as a marketing tool to encourage people to actually visit the exhibition to view more.
/ During Event
• A user-friendly digital guide can enrich the exhibition experience by providing exhibition and artwork information without disturbing the audience to enjoy the art. Therefore, we decided to develop an app that can provide trilingual audio information automatically when people walk near the artworks.
• When you visit the exhibition, you can enable the “Nearby Artwork” function after turning on Bluetooth. Information about the artworks in front of you will be shown in the app, you can then choose the one you are interested to know more or listen to the audio description.
• When you walk from one chapter to the other, the app will also provide you with audio introduction on chapter level.
• Once you have visited the exhibition, you will have access to all the exhibits, allowing you to keep a record of your favourite artworks to view at home.
• On-site iPad rental – to test out visitor’s behaviour and allow more visitors to try out the digital guide, we have prepared 100 iPads and Headset for free rental
• On-site support – there are also dedicated app helpers on site to help visitors to download and use the digital guide
/ Post Event
• After you left the exhibition, you will still be able to check out your saved artworks in the app.
• The additional articles and video contents allow you to explore the exhibition again from an in-depth view
• Since the M+ Sigg Collection can only be shown to the public again in few years time, we have decided to release the full artwork information for access after the exhibition period, so overseas audience / local audience who have missed the exhibition will still have a chance to look at the highlights of the M+ Sigg Collection virtually.
• In order to provide information to the visitors when they walk near to the artwork, we have to detect their mobile signal. iBeacon is the best tool for detecting close range devices and artworks as opposed to GPS (which might not be accurate for indoor positioning).
• As the Venue (ArtisTree) is not owned by our organisation, we had only 1 week to move in the exhibits and set up the iBeacon for testing. We did simulation testing in our office at a reduced scale to ensure it worked.
• To encourage more people downloading the app, we have to make sure the app size is light weight and portable enough (<50mb). Key information will be packed with the app, while the other audio/video contents will be downloaded on demand through network.
• To achieve this and also offer better visitor services, we have decided to provide fast and stable free WiFi network for visitors to download the app and load the contents at ease (without using mobile network)
• Content forms a very essential part for a digital exhibition guide.
• Different from traditional printed exhibition guide, mobile app can provide multimedia content to help audience know more about the exhibition, artwork and artist background.
• Besides basic artwork description, we have invited our curators (from senior curator to young staff) to provide their own interpretation to selected artworks in a form of audio description to allow another perspective.
• We also interview the artists to provide an in-depth video introduction of the artwork and its
artistic or cultural background.
• The ability to group artworks into different chapters, art movements and relate similar artist and artwork allows multiple entry point to this resourceful collection.
CLASSIFICATION / NAVIGATION
• To help our visitors to find artwork information easily, we provide different classifications in the app
• Timeline presentation – users can scroll through the history of Chinese contemporary art
• Classify the artwork by artist group such as No Name Group, Star Group etc.
• Classify the artwork by artist name
• We would also feature some artworks in each chapter, as well as to link related artworks
• The navigation structure is very clear and self-explanatory to users. The transition from one section to another is very smooth in order not to confuse our users.
• In order to provide the pre-event experience to our audience, we will need to promote the digital guide to our audience before the opening of the exhibition.
• To promote the mobile app, online marketing would be an effective way as our audience can download the app directly by clicking our ad.
• Channels include Facebook, Google search and display ads, our West Kowloon website, enewsletter, instagram, as well as other media/partner’s channels.
The M+ Sigg Collection app is the first-ever interactive exhibition guide for M+ as a new museum for visual culture, at the same time it is also a very ambitious project in Hong Kong and worldwide in terms of scale, technology and content.
• Because of the complicated and lengthy budget approval process from the Board, the whole project time frame is only around two months.
• Very tight lead time for developing such a comprehensive exhibition guide, especially this is the first time for us and for our agency.
• Only 2 months for app design, development, UI design, content production and testing, inclusive of design revision, script writing, internal approval, as well as app review and approval time needed by App Store which is often uncertain. Normally mobile app with such scale will require at least 4-6 months to complete.
• There is no local app developer with such experience while oversea app developers don’t have experience to handle trilingual content (English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese) and on-site issues.
• The rented venue (ArtisTree) gave 1 week to move in the exhibits. iBeacon could only set up after the artwork had been installed. Allowing only 3 days to set up 200 iBeacons and 2 days for testing. If there were any problems in the testing process, we didn’t have much time to fix it.
• Unlike other museum exhibitions, we were not generating income from ticket sales thus budget was limited. We had a tight control over budget
• Staffing is another issue as our team is in no way a large one as compared to established institutions or large corporations.
• Technically speaking there is only one staff from digital marketing team working with the agency on app design, development, UX, testing and iBeacon setup.
• There is two colleagues from the learning team to help produce the audio contents in three languages, and consolidate all the exhibition materials including all the images and text for over 80 artworks, artist bio, videos for digital marketing team to input into the CMS.
• Both teams are at the same time working on multiple events which makes it even harder to squeeze time for this massive project.
The overall project is a great success not only on the statistics, but has also proven our idea and innovation about enhancing customer’s pre-event, during and post-event experience through the use of an app, as one’s personal exhibition guide. By strategically combining the power of content, design, digital marketing and technology, we have successfully reimagined a seamless, new exhibition experience. Through this project we have received positive feedback and valuable insights on enhancing the future museum experience.
ATTENDANCE / DOWNLOADS
• From 23 Feb to to 5 Apr, the exhibition has attracted over 40,000 visitors (exceeded our original target:20,000)
• The app has more than 11,000 downloads in just one and a half month (around one-fourth of the visitors have downloaded the app)
• There are around 300 downloads per day
• 70% downloads are from Hong Kong and 30% are from overseas, showing that it has raised an interest to international audience
• 1800 visitors borrowed an iPad; at peak day we rent out iPads to over 110 visitors
• From app usage data and survey result, we find that people who use the digital guide would stay much longer (30 minutes more on average) than the people haven’t used the app.
• 40% of users used the audio guide function, with a total of 11,414 audio plays.
• Reopen rate of the app in 7 days is as high as 58%
• From statistics we can tell most people will go through the different phases from previewing the exhibits, and later on visiting the actual exhibition to learn more or have full access, proving that the app is also successful as a marketing tool.
iBEACON / NEARBY ARTWORKS
• 65% used the Nearby Artwork function
• Through iBeacon we can also keep track of visitor’s behaviour and flow inside the exhibition (with heatmap and audience flow)
• We can identify the most popular artwork (most clicked), longest stay area, as well as some bottlenecks and least stay area
• Without iBeacon we will have no way to keep track of this level of detail for analysis. This also helps us to better plan the exhibition space taken into account the popularity / visibility of exhibit, artwork medium against the design of the space.
• The exhibition has been featured by over 300 local and international media including the CNN, the Guardian, Art Newspaper, Bloomberg and many more
• The iBeacon and the new exhibition guide has been featured by media and also tech magazine
• Overall the visitor’s feedback is very positive and encouraging towards this new digital experience
• Most of them are excited with the Nearby Artwork function, asking us how the app is able to show the artworks around them
• We have received many enquiries from cultural organisations and media about this app; some of the galleries and schools are interested to build similar app after seeing ours
• Most of the visitors are willing to spend time to download/explore the app before going inside the exhibition area; most of them favoured the audio guide and its resourceful contents to help them understand more about the artwork
• From survey results it shows us that we have successfully targeted the young, digital savvy generation by using latest technology, or which some of them might not have heard of M+ if it wasn’t for this exhibition/app.
• Our exhibition helpers also provided feedback to us that actually the older generation is very interested to learn about this technology and proactively ask our helpers for assistance
• Schools and teachers welcome this idea and think this app help them in conducting school visits to the exhibition; most of the schools enquired whether we can borrow iPad to their students for education purpose on the spot.
• People from the design / visual culture field told us that they think the app is quite beautiful and easy to use.
• This is actually the first time collaboration between the digital marketing team and the M+ learning team. It is a very enjoyable experience given tight deadline as both teams are very focus, understanding and efficient. We feel very lucky and happy that this collaboration has great synergy and good achievement.
• Uli Sigg has expressed his interest to bring this app along with the collection to tour around the rest of the world
• The M+ team and management is very impressed with the app and is keen to continue using this technology for their other exhibitions
• We will take the experience obtained from this exhibition to continue enhancing the app, to prepare for building the ultimate museum app for M+
The Sigg Collection app has attained multiple international and local awards, in recognition of the innovative use of app technology and digital marketing strategy in the arts and cultural sector.
Marketing Magazine’s Marketing Excellence Awards
- Gold Award for Excellence in Use of Apps
International Design & Communication Awards (IDCA)
- Silver Award in the Best App category
- Silver Award in Mobile Sites/Apps
- Silver in Best App – Creative Design
- Bronze in Best App – Content Creation