The Metropolitan Museum of Art is playing catch up in the digital age.
The Met is beginning what they say will be a long and expensive process of wiring the thick-walled building for Wi-Fi, so that visitors will be able to watch videos about the art from anywhere inside the museum. They created their first app for the new show Guitar Heroes. They are installing a numbered gallery system for navigating ease – something that most larger museums already have.
And they have been working on their website. According to the Met’s research, 40 percent of visitors check out the museum online before going there in person.
Last month, the Met unveiled the first changes to their website since 2001. Website visitors will be able to watch “Connections,” an audio slideshow feature where different Museum staff members discuss an aspect of the Met’s collection that catches their fancy. A new website will launch in the summer.
Many museums have tried to be more user-friendly and approachable, but the successful ones generally skew a little younger. MOMA has been very successful at using social media. They have over half a million fans on their facebook page, a popular Flickr group, twitter and an iPhone app. The Brooklyn Museum has blog, a tumblr, a well-followed twitter feed and holds video contests through YouTube.
The Met’s challenge is to hold on to their current demographic – older people and tourists – while trying to appeal to visitors who are more inclined to Google the Temple of Dendur while walking through the Egyptian Wing than to read the descriptions on the wall.