New Media in Berlin Museums
As part of the development of the guide and information system for the Museum Island as a whole, the Berlin State Museums commissioned Polyform with the provision of various new media-based services for visitors, comprising of >orientation aids, facilities enabling visitors to both prepare and follow-up their visit and the availability of up-to-date information.
The new media concept is based on visitor interest and on developing the medium itself. The content, which will be available on a permanent, temporary or latent basis, defines the medium. It is not yet known to what extent the technology will develop over time. Consequently, a new media usage concept was developed that is based, not on what is actually feasible from a technological point of view, but on the content of the communication (orientation, background information, temporary information, etc.). This results in three applications operating on terminals that have been modified to meet the requirements of their respective contents. These vary from a monolithic style to furniture elements that function either as a computer workplace or as pure digital display boards.
Terminal tour guides
The guide system application leads visitors across the Museum Island and to selected exhibits inside the individual buildings - it is designed as a media extension to the guide and information system. The visitor can ask the system a question and receive a reply in the form of a text, ticket, directions or image. The guide system also offers information on Berlin’s other museums in different locations, as well as the current programme of events and special exhibitions. The application runs on terminals located in the entrance areas to the building, providing visitors with a general overview of the building they have just entered, as well as useful information on other locations. The terminals are designed as stand-alone units that are clearly visible and easy to use, and are operated by touch screens or keys. Most terminals can be operated from two sides, comprising of a stand and a ‘head’ with two integrated touch screens.
The dedicated media room in the Bode Museum provides visitors with more detailed information about the museum. Brief profiles of all collections housed on the Museum Island, contextualised information about the main works and interactive guided tours on specific topics, with geographical, cultural and historical references, give visitors a deeper insight into the treasures available to view. It is also possible to access background information about the Museum Island and its buildings, including current events and special exhibitions. The terminals are designed as furniture, with unobtrusive, integrated IT components and seating for two or more people. The user interface consists of keyboard, trackball and headset. Thanks to both voice output and display-enlargement modes, all interactive terminals can be used by the blind and the visually impaired. There is a barrier-free terminal for wheelchair users in the great cupola and in the media room.
Current events, guided tours and special exhibitions, together with the relevant prices, are displayed on a digital poster placed in the payment area of the Bode Museum. Auto-scheduled notices and information can also be entered via the Polyform editorial system. The digital posters consist of large LCD panels in portrait format that sre integrated into the housing and installed in the building’s entrance areas and other places where they are clearly visible.
All contents are provided by a central media server. The data is maintained via a modular editorial system with browser-supported interface, also developed by Polyform, which has created a highly flexible and resource-saving information distribution system for the Museum Island as a whole. With the completion of the building, this will continue to grow in the coming years and will remain centrally controlled.