Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

A 16-by-12-foot interactive wall, a location-aware mobile app, and a redesigned museum website, all working together. Visit Site

Services

Touchscreens, Touchwalls/Atmosphere walls, Lean/Agile Development, Responsive Site, Content Management System, Design, Mobile & Native Applications, Digital Strategy, Content Strategy

The most popular museum in America is filled with fascinating artifacts and stories: the Apollo 11 Moon Lander command module Columbia, the Spirit of St. Louis, the Space Shuttle Discovery, and the fastest jet airplane in world history. 

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum hosts eight million visitors a year between their two locations, and in 2015, they set out to reimagine their visitor experience in honor of the 40th anniversary of the museum in DC.

The Museum developed an experience strategy that starts wherever the visitor is located – inside or outside the museum walls. Inside the museum in Washington, DC, the experience begins the moment visitors walk into the main exhibition Hall gallery, extends throughout the entire museum, and continues to drive exploration long after visitors head home.

The Media Wall

The experience may begin in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall, with a massive 200-square-foot touchwall.

Walk up to the wall and choose a subject—space exploration, for example. Or choose an item in the Museum’s collection. Whatever you select, you’ll immediately get facts and imagery on your chosen topic.

A tap will also bring up a constellation of related topics, stories, and Museum holdings, inviting you to keep exploring, to keep connecting historic happenings and ideas. You can follow an interest in moon landings, chase it a few steps, and find yourself learning about aerial combat in WWI.

This wall, however, is far from the Museum’s main attraction. This massive screen is just a trailer for everything that’s ahead.

Go Flight App

The Museum’s new smartphone app works in tandem with the wall. As you explore objects on the wall, you can add them to a list of favorites. Stock up a tidy little list, sync it to your phone, and you’ve got a tour designed just for you.

This new app transforms the museum-going experience. It delivers world-class interpretations right into visitor hands. No more disappointingly brief brochures. No more museum-loaned headsets with info on just a handful of objects. No more limits. You can explore by subject, by object, or by theme. You can learn a little about a lot of things, or dive deep into whatever interests you most.

As you explore the Museum, the app uses wifi and geomagnetic location services to compare where you are with what’s around you. Simply tap the “At the Museum” feature and swipe down to refresh the feed; instantly, you’ll get a list of all the objects around you—with photos, video, and world-class interpretations literally at your fingertips.

The app features thousands of objects. And the Museum’s new website features thousands more. Now, after a day spent looking at spacecraft and learning about the early days of flight, you can keep exploring online.

The Website

The new website has more space for photography, better storytelling formats, and a cleaner design. And because it’s built on the same powerful, customized, Drupal-based backend that’s behind both the Museum’s app and media wall, for museum staffers managing the site and visitors interacting with it, the experience is seamless.

The Experience

The Museum collection includes over 60,000 items, and between their two locations—the Museum in DC and the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA—roughly 6,000 of those are on display at any given time. And every object on display, as well as thousands of others, can be found on the touchscreen, the app, the website, or several different platforms.

The backend behind the Museum’s new suite of digital tools ties into their existing collections management systems. Now, Museum staff have the ability to coordinate the display or add virtually limitless objects to the app, the website, and the wall. And as their collection grows, and as we gain new perspectives on history, the Museum can update all elements of their digital ecosystem at once.

Press

Washington Post – “Cool new gadgets and an all-night party mark the Air and Space Museum’s 40th birthday”

DCist – “Air And Space Museum’s ‘Milestones Of Flight’ Hall Fully Reopens After Two Years”

 

Results

Communication Arts

HOW International Merit Award- Kiosks/Interactive Exhibits

DSE Apex Award – Finalist- Arts, Entertainment, Recreation

 

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