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Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has received a substantial award from The Hunter Foundation to build on the success of The Centre of New Enlightenment (TCoNE) and design a pioneering, interactive learning experience accessible to all visitors. The first stage of the redesign is underway as Glasgow Museums appoint a Digital Curator who will drive the project forward. The aim is to deliver a new, one-of-a-kind, smartphone based cultural and educational experience, which will increase personal discovery and encourage intergenerational learning among the 1 million plus people who visit Kelvingrove Museum each year. The space within Kelvingrove will also be modernised.
TCoNE opened in July 2006, when Kelvingrove Museum reopened after a £27.6 million, three-year refurbishment. Funded by Sir Tom Hunter, it was created to complement the aims of the restoration project to improve the emotional, intellectual and physical access to Glasgow’s collection. The acclaimed TCoNE experience was particularly intended for smaller groups of pupils at risk of disengagement from school. It sought to challenge young peoples’ preconceptions of a museum.
During their adventure visitors used a palmtop computer to undertake challenges and mini-games around the museum, collecting data and responding to artefacts. Research by Kelvingrove Museum shows the TCoNE experience has been tremendously successful in its goal of building confidence and pride, by offering young people strong recognition of the value of their efforts and the importance the museum, and society, places on this. The refreshed TCoNE experience will continue to work with facilitated groups.
The objective of TCoNE is to inspire users, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to grow in self confidence, while encouraging them to want to lead successful lives. Over 10,500 young people have participated in the programme, with more than half of the sessions delivered to young, disengaged people. Regular repeat visitors include schools, agencies such as Jobs and Business Glasgow and charities like The Prince’s Trust.
The design and implementation of the new interactive learning experience will begin in Spring 2017. The appointed designers will be tasked with maintaining the strengths of TCoNE and working with current users to develop the unique qualities they value. Those strengths include the treasure hunt element, which challenges visitors to solve clues to find objects in museum, to encourage users to roam free around Kelvingrove and to make the content appealing to all, leaving them with a positive, life affirming feeling.
Currently the TCoNE experience is restricted to booked-in groups and schools. Technology has changed dramatically since it opened. The ambition is to make the new experience one that is available to all visitors to Kelvingrove Museum and increase participation a hundredfold. The basic concept is built around a downloadable smartphone app, which enables visitors to activate object markers as they pass through the museum. The use of digital technology will establish thematic connections between users and the objects they encounter, encouraging increased engagement and understanding. This approach negates the need to pre-book, or have a staff member lead the session. Spare devices will be available to visitors without access to a smartphone.
Visitors have changed too. They now expect to comment, contribute and curate their own personalised experience and share it with their friends. It is anticipated the new technology will be able to accommodate these requests.
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