Our 1790s historic house museum is fairly typical in not having an elevator to access its upper levels. For years, guests who opted out of climbing sixteen stairs to reach the second floor were given a printed tour with pictures and descriptions to peruse. Not a bad solution, but not great either.
While researching possible alternatives, I looked for an easy, elegant, and enhanced touring alternative/interpretive tool. I also hoped to provide a “beyond the stanchions” look at our collection, spaces, and views. An iPad video kiosk seemed to be the answer. The museum community regularly uses iPads to complement programming and engage people through the use of apps, music, digital labels, videos and zoom-able images, surveys, touch-screen kiosks, and even robotic tours. Why not use a tablet to show a second floor video?
I found a stand that works well in our tight space. It has a weighted bottom, a telescoping, adjustable pole and a bendable neck. The iPad can be locked in place so theft is not a worry.
The process of making the video was challenging and fun. Basically, I strove to highlight things our guests love best or wish they had access to. I secured project funding through Stafford County Tourism, wrote a script, worked with a local production crew on lighting and filming, and selected background music (not as easy as it sounds!). After editing and more editing, the video was ready to share with the public. Apple’s Education Customer Service representatives provided friendly step-by-step instructions on how to upload the video file to the iPad so WiFi wouldn’t be an required. Training staff was a breeze due to the iPad’s user-friendly interface design.
Initial feedback from guests has been overwhelmingly positive. One weary visitor who chose to watch the video instead of climbing the stairs ended up re-joining her group upstairs minutes later because it looked so interesting! An unintended consequence, but hopefully now you can more fully experience Belmont, even from the first floor.
~ Michelle Crow-Dolby, Education and Communications Manager, Gari Melchers Home & Studio