Creating dark, different, experimental experiences

The O

Interior of the Museum of Old and New Art

When David Walsh opened the Museum of Old and New Art he wanted to revolutionise the way a museum could look and feel. He wanted to democratise the museum experience—no wall labels, no scholarly rhetoric. He wanted a different type of storytelling.

So in the three years leading up to Mona’s opening in 2011, Art Processors invented The O. It put Mona at the cutting edge of museum mobile technology—and continues to push the boundaries of what a mobile experience is expected to be.

The O replaces traditional wall labels and texts in the cavernous and controversial museum, using indoor location technology that finds visitors wherever they are and tells them about the artwork on display closest to them.

Visitors use The O to read and listen to ‘Artwank’, Walsh’s ramblings about his private collection, interviews with artists and family-friendly content. They can ‘love’ and ‘hate’ the art, join virtual exhibition queues, and save their visit for viewing later.

Augmented reality capabilities in The O mean it can be directly incorporated into major exhibits, such as Mona’s most technologically ambitious exhibition to date, New Zealand artist Simon Denny’s Mine.

Since Mona opened, The O has been used by over 97% of visitors—unheard of in the museum sector.

It’s no exaggeration to say The O and Art Processors have enabled Mona to manifest the way it has—dark, mysterious, confusing, different, innovative.
 


Challenge

Walsh wanted visitors to experience the same excitement he felt as a collector on first encountering his art. He didn’t want them to read about the objects as they shuffled from label to label, as they had done at his Moorilla Museum of Antiquities. He faced two challenges: he wanted visitors to enjoy the artworks in an aesthetically pleasing space, and deliver rich content in an individual manner without distracting from the aforementioned aesthetic.

A map of the Museum of Old and New Art is displayed on a mobile device, showing the holder where in the museum they are
Mobile screen interface from The O
Mobile screen interface from The O
Screenshot of post visit experience from The O at Mona

Approach

Walsh wanted something that didn’t exist, so we formed Art Processors to invent it. Moving information from walls to a mobile device enabled the museum space to be re-imagined; walls didn’t need to be white, there was no need for bright lights to illuminate tiny text, and way-finding became exploratory rather than dictatorial. The context of objects could be extended far beyond a block of words.

A child is looking up at wall art at the Museum of Old and New Art. He is holding a mobile device in his hand that is showing the interface from The O application.

 

I could easily have not opened the doors if some of the art didn’t look right or some of the lighting wasn’t working, but if The O wasn’t there I was never going to open because it was the thing that gave me the freedom to create in the way that I wanted to create.

– David Walsh,
   Mona owner

No one likes waiting in line, so at Mona we got rid of them. We added world-first virtual queuing technology to The O that has saved tens of thousands of visitors thousands of days of standing in physical lines.

Learn More
A Mona staff member is holding an iPad with The O's queuing technology displayed. She is standing in front of three waiting visitors

Solution

The O, is an accessible and user-friendly mobile experience for iOS and Android that provides location-based content for a variety of learning styles and interests. It provides the ability to ‘love’ and ‘hate’ artworks, virtual exhibit queues, augmented reality capabilities, and ‘save tour’ functionality for off-site engagement. The O is powered by our Museum Operating System (MOS), which also supports curatorial and front of house staff in the day-to-day management of the museum.

Impact in numbers

  • 92 per cent Users who use The O.
  • 80 per cent Visitors who believe the The O enhanced their experience of the museum.
  • 113,930 people Visitors who joined virtual queues via The O during the first year of operation.
A man standing in front of an artwork display case. He is holding a mobile device in front of him