Tate Modern has introduced a unique new multimedia tour of the displays Still Life/Object/Real Life. The tour is the first of its kind in any museum or gallery in the world.
Unlike the existing audio tours currently used in UK museums, the Multimedia Tour allows background information about the works on display to be provided to visitors in a variety of different media on a portable screen-based device. Visitors can see video and still images that give additional context for the works on display, and can listen to an expert talk about details of a work, while the details are simultaneously highlighted on their screen. Interactive screens encourage visitors to respond to the art on view, for instance by answering questions or by layering a collection of sound clips to create their own soundtrack for a work.
While multimedia tours have been trialled in the USA, this is the first in the world to use a location-sensitive wireless network. This means that visitors no longer need to spend time searching the multimedia tour to find the relevant information for a room, because the network pinpoints their exact location in the gallery and feeds the correct information to them at the right time. Because this information comes from a central server, rather than being stored in the memory of the hand-held device, practically limitless content can be provided, and can easily be kept up-to-date. A further benefit of connecting the tour to a network is that visitors can request the central server to send further information about the art they have seen to their home email address.
The tour of Still Life/Object/Real Life takes approximately 45 minutes and covers 9 works. It includes contributions from Damien Hirst, Jake and Dinos Chapman and interviews with two of Frank Auerbach’s sitters.
Tate Modern’s award winning audio guides, sponsored by Bloomberg, have been a key part of the interpretation and education strategy at the gallery since it opened in May 2000. This new tour reflects Tate’s commitment to developing the next generation of multimedia learning tools. It will be trialled for three months as a pilot, providing invaluable information about the effectiveness of such devices, and is currently offered to visitors free of charge. The multimedia tour is sponsored by Bloomberg and developed in association with Antenna Audio, with support from Nykris.
The technology that drives this pilot project, is unique in that it detects users’ locations in the gallery without the use of infrared or radio beacons, and without the need for a dedicated access point for each content zone - for example, this installation uses just 7 802.11b access points to map 16 content zones in the galleries. The hand-held device used is an iPAQ 3800 series, from HP.