USF's Museum Blog

Alumni Connect: Innovating technology with the de Young Museum App

This week, alumna Alexa Beaman (MA, Museum Studies ’14) is co-presenting an important case study at the international Museums and the Web conference which is taking place in Los Angeles. Last year Alexa joined the start-up company Guidekick and in October 2015 she helped to launch the de Young Museum App by Guidekick. The timing was right. Mobile is a fast-growing channel for de Young museum Web users. Last year, over one-third of the Web audience to the de Young museum subdomain came from mobile and 13 percent from tablet. This represents a 40 percent growth on mobile and 14 percent growth on tablet from the previous year.  Along with Tricia Robson and Gary Castro, both with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Mark Paddon, Guidekick, Inc., Alexa produced the in-depth analysis of how the app was used, how the use was tracked, and implications for the future use of apps in art museums that she and her colleagues are sharing with others at the Los Angeles conference.

guidekick-web-image-1The Guidekick app serves as a personal tour guide for museumgoers, using advanced indoor positioning to map a visitor’s location and in turn providing art historically rich content, images, and audio about key, user-selected works in the museum’s collection. It was an immediate hit. Between October 29, 2015 and December 31, 2015, the app was downloaded by 10,700 users, 81% of whom engaged with it in at least two separate sessions.


Marrying the museum’s three-pronged focus on content, engagement, and technology, the app combines carefully curated content in a technically innovative manner. The result is a captivating, user-centric platform that allows for continued insight into the on-site museum visitor experience. Users are able to peel away the different floors of each building to fully interact and explore each level, revealing curated artwork tours and highly detailed information inside. The app not only provides a detailed three-dimensional visual representation of the museum, but also utilizes the very latest in indoor navigation technology. The geo-accurate mapping employed allows visitors to better plan and navigate their museum visit.


The de Young Museum App is an important technical case study for museums in its (1) utilization of new technologies and direct partnership with tech companies; (2) development of an engaging three-dimensional visualization of architectural space; and (3) use of accurate indoor navigation to obtain insight into visitor behavior. Such technical collaboration and data analysis serve as a launching pad for further innovation and user engagement.

You can read the full report by clicking here.

We congratulate Alexa and her team on their ground-breaking work in innovating, experimenting, evaluating and succeeding in utilizing advanced technological tools to enhance visitors’ experiences of art and art museums.


For more information on University of San Francisco’s museum studies program, click here.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: