China Cultural Visiting Hub
University of Nottingham

Design of the visitor experience and
the technology of interpretation

The pervasiveness of new media and technologies has opened endless opportunities to enhance visitors’ interactions with cultural institutions, historic sites and cities. The focus of this theme is to share knowledge and know-how on the design and deployment of technology-augmented visiting experiences.


Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAMs) are facing very rapid and intense transformations due to the impact of new media and technologies on their functions, as well as on the demands and expectations of the public. GLAMs can now connect with visitors in new ways, bringing them into innovative and closer relationships with their physical and digital assets.

GLAMs have been increasingly experimenting and adopting new media and technologies to explore novel forms of audience engagement. As a result, the visiting experience has been rapidly transforming. For instance, there is a trend in designing web-based experiences to involve the public and to diversify and increase the use of the digitised resources available online.

Likewise, the use of visitors’ mobile devices is a growing area of interest. Smart phones are offering alternative and personalised journeys to enrich on-site indoor and outdoor visits, by connecting the physical world (e.g. an artefact in a museum; a sculpture in a public space) with the digital space (e.g. online information on the artefact, etc.).

In response to the evolving landscape, the University of Nottingham has been working with GLAMs to explore how to augment the visiting experience by exploiting digital technology. Hence, this theme aims at developing new collaborations to share knowledge and know-how on the design of the visiting experience, as well as to co-create and deliver technology-enhanced-experiences in Chinese cultural institutions and cities.

Case studies

ArtMaps – Putting the Tate Collection on the Map

ArtMaps explores the relation between art and place through a crowdsourcing platform, developed by Horizon Digital Economy (University of Nottingham) in collaboration with Tate and the University of Exeter. The Web platform uses existing geographical data on artworks to visualise them in relation to locations in the real world, and allows people to contribute their knowledge about locations associated with artworks. This platform has been successfully used to facilitate public engagement events blending online and situated activities and is an open source freely available to be repurposed for other cultural institutions and collections.

ArtMaps platform

ArtMaps project blog


The Grand Tour in the Marche – Designing Outdoor Interactions with Digital Heritage

The Grand Tour in the Marche was a one-off experience staged in collaboration with the State Tactile Museum Omero in Ancona, Italy. Using WanderAnywhere – a locative media platform – to access digitisations of sketches from the Tate collection and to play audio reproductions of travel journal entries, the experience took walkers along Ancona sea-front to sights that inspired Joseph William Turner and his contemporaries on their tour of the city.

The walk was led by an expert tour guide and complemented by tactile representations of Turner’s sketches for partially-sighted participants. WanderAnywhere can be adopted by cultural organisations to reuse their digital collections in interactive experiences bound to locations, and to have those experiences delivered to visitors through mobile devices.

The Grand Tour in the Marche


Uncovering the Invisible – Augmenting a Temporary Exhibition through Technology

Uncovering the Invisible: Portraits of Latin Americans is a photographic collaboration between British-Mexican photographers Pablo and Roxana Allison focusing on the diversity of backgrounds and life-stories of the Latin American community in the UK. The photographic project was exhibited in 2014 at the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester and at the Greater London Authority City Hall, and in 2015 at the UNESCO Mobile Learning Week in Paris.

The exhibition has been augmented through Near-Field-Communication Technology (NFC). The technology allows the visitors to listen to the voices and stories of each person portrayed by tapping with their smart-phones the NFC tags added to the photos. NFC technology has very limited costs, does not involve high technical expertise in the deployment, and therefore especially suitable for temporary and touring exhibitions.

Uncovering the Invisible



Continuing professional development content

How museums can create and increase engagement online (in addition to, or separate from, visits to the institution itself).

Mobile technologies for engagement and learning through locative media experiences - particularly in historic locations.

Educational technology for museum visits - embodied learning activities and assessment in the museum space. 



Asia Business Centre

Business Engagement and Innovation Services
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