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Why MONA went mobile: The technology behind Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art

Rohan Pearce | Jan. 4, 2013
There are many things that make visiting Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art an unusual experience. The setting, in the Moorilla winery, the striking architecture of MONA itself, and the intense sensory overload that takes place within its walls, with the shocking (and wonderful) juxtaposition of antiquities and contemporary art.

"Longer term the plan is to have a number of different tiers. So there might be a basic tier, which is something that we can just shrink wrap and provide as an app in an app store. And then all the way up to the fully customised solution; like if you want to do something as bold as MONA has done, then we can do that as well. We are, at this early stage, really looking to do things more on the scale of what MONA has done, and we have some exciting projects in the pipeline that we will be announcing very soon."

Taking MONA to the world

In April, the Art Processors team visited the US as part of the Museums and the Web conference and Holzner says there was a lot of interest in what MONA had done.

"MONA as a whole has completely redefined the cultural landscape in this country; you can take it one step further and say across the world," Holzner says.

"There are no parallels in terms of a museum that so beautifully [integrates] the entire digital experience with the way you arrive [at the museum], with the level of support that the staff give you there, the way they interact with the visitors, the artwork itself, the way it's displayed, and the architecture as well. They all come together very beautifully at MONA and they're all in harmony."

"[In the US] We talked to MOMA [the Museum of Modern Art in New York City], the Met [The Metropolitan Museum of Art, also in NYC], we talked to SFMOMA [the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art], the Getty [in California], [and the] the Hirshhorn in Washington DC," Holzner says.

"It was more a market research and fact-finding mission than a sales tour," he says.

"It was too early for us to be in a sales position. But that did inform a lot of the development we've done in the last six months in terms of refining the product and informing where we go with the functionality and features." There's been a lot of interest in the Asia Pacific region as well, Holzner says.

"I think the current approach is -- we want to be the leader in non-linear tours, as per MONA with The O, and we also want to be the leaders in next-generation audio tours that have high levels of interaction and go very far beyond the fairly stagnant playlist approach that everyone's been doing since the Walkman was invented."

Holzner believes that traditional interpretive approaches to works in museums are outmoded. They shouldn't be replaced for the sake of using technology, but for the sake of improving the experience.


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