• Tokyo-Paris: Two LDMLs
Presentation organinzed by :
  • DNP
Thematic approaches
Seventh presentation Louvre - DNP Museum Lab Diplomacy and Sèvres Porcelain,Prestige and the French art of living in the 18th century
Issues encountered during development and proposed solutions
Use of introductory multimedia displays at the exhibition entrance
It is sometimes preferable for visitors to have information on what the exhibition is seeking to convey or the historical and cultural context of the works exhibited prior to their visit to enhance their understanding and enjoyment.
Explanatory panels bearing textual information are therefore often set at the entrance to exhibitions; recently screens with audio-visual displays that offer a more detailed approach frequently make an appearance.
However, like the explanatory panels, the audio-visual displays often temporarily hold up the stream of visitors at the outset, giving the impression that the exhibition is crowded, whereas visitors are actually spread fairly evenly throughout the exhibition space and are able to move around easily. The introductory area is therefore congested to a much greater extent than the main viewing areas.
Yet in the specific case of audio-visual displays, a similar situation may occur at other areas in the exhibition venue. Visitors who arrive during a showing often wish to see the start and end up remaining to watch the whole program through again a second time. This leads to groups of visitors moving together at the end of the showing, which causes congestion, particularly in the initial areas of the exhibition.

Museum Lab's proposed solution:
Besides investigating what would be the most suitable length for an audio-visual display at the start of the exhibition, Museum Lab envisaged breaking the program into chapters to enable visitors to recognize easily what they had already seen, thus allowing them to move on from the introductory area while the program was still showing. This solution avoids the simultaneous movement of large numbers of visitors when a program finishes.
In addition to this breakdown into chapter form, the program is shown on two screens - one horizontal and one vertical screen. It is easier to look down at the horizontal screen when close to it, so visitors naturally tend to go up to it. For a more comfortable view of the whole area of the vertical screen one needs to stand back slightly and visitors therefore naturally take a step back. In this way, visitors are distributed more evenly throughout the exhibition space rather than being concentrated in one area and also enjoy greater freedom of movement during the showing of a program, such as after each chapter.
Making multimedia displays more user-friendly
When developing multimedia mediation tools, one of the essential concerns for Museum Lab is to design interfaces or interactive elements that allow any user to access information in an intuitive manner. Various experiments were carried out along these lines during the first phase of exhibitions of Museum Lab.
Today an increasing number of multimedia displays with touch panels are to be found in public places. Yet it is important to define relatively large interactive areas by using fairly big "buttons" so that the user can easily understand which part of the screen to press so as to avoid launching a neighboring program. This restricts the amount of information that can be displayed on a screen, thereby requiring data to be kept to a minimum, data to be presented in a simplified form, or the use of a tree structure with various layers of interlinked information.
However, tree structures do present the disadvantage that it is hard to gain an overview of all available information from a hierarchical layered schema. For example, visitors do not know where their present position lies within the tree structure, or how many stages are required to complete a sub-unit. As a result, they interrupt the session before reaching the important elements that the designer had in store for them, or before finding the information they were looking for. They may miss out on potentially interesting information that they did not realize existed - which proves frustrating for both user and designer.

Museum Lab's proposed solution:
While presenting the tree structure on screen is one solution whereby visitors can grasp the range of available data, for the 7th presentation Museum Lab has sought to suggest the number of layers and their contents in an intuitive manner by using paper pamphlets as the user interface.
Visitors can understand intuitively that there are as many types of information as there are types of pamphlets, and that the number of pages in a pamphlet limits the amount of available information. Museum Lab uses this intuitive knowledge to turn familiar actions into a user interface, with "Take the pamphlet in your hand" becoming "Choose a display item on the screen," or "Turn the page" becoming "Go on to the next layer of information."
A user interface based on a familiar action such as that of using a paper pamphlet makes for intuitive operation, dispensing with the need for instructions.
Multimedia screen functionality for displaying exhibit captions
A museum's aim is to allow visitors to encounter genuine artworks. The amount of information presented must therefore be optimized to allow the works themselves to take center stage. However, with recent globalization bringing a diverse array of visitors from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds, museums are forced to provide more information beyond the basic requirements (title of work, artist's name, date of creation etc.) and to display them in several languages in order to make the works accessible to as many people as possible. In some cases, a more detailed explanation may even be required as an aid to understanding the work.
Yet restrictions of space and lack of available sites for displaying such information sometimes make it difficult to match the information to the work.
Some museums have started to use small screens to display basic information, but they are often more difficult to read than conventional printed caption panels. Moreover, the increased amount of information they contain results in congestion in the screen area. And if they break down, the minimum amount of vital information is no longer available - problems therefore remain.

Museum Lab's proposed solution:
For the 7th presentation, Museum Lab suggests printing the minimum amount of vital information on a small screen so as to ensure the conventional function of a caption panel, and to combine this basic information with audio-visual animated features shown on small screens to provide extra details, such as multilingual or contextual explanations.
In addition, this would make it possible to explore and test various hypotheses both in terms of program (information quality and quantity) and hardware (form, ease of viewing, etc.).
Guiding the visitor's gaze
When faced with an artwork, visitors want to know what they should be looking for and want to understand what they need to see to appreciate it fully. Conventionally there were two stages to achieving this: obtaining information on the work beforehand, and then making use of this information for an enhanced view of the work.
For example, if the information is displayed on panels, the visitor needs to look back and forth between the panel and the artwork. As it is difficult to give an oral account of visual elements, audio-guidance systems tend to focus on historical or contextual explanations. Either way, it is not conducive to making people look at the work for its own sake.

Museum Lab's proposed solution:
This issue occurs throughout the Louvre-DNP Museum Lab project, and each presentation seeks to offer a solution that corresponds to the works exhibited. It forms part of a wider concern regarding the use of multimedia to allow the work and information on it to exist in proximity to one another, thereby succeeding in conciliating the fact of viewing an artwork while at the same time having access to information on that work.
For the 7th presentation, Museum Lab has designed an audio-visual device that guides the visitor's gaze by projecting a beam of light directly onto the artwork in order to highlight points to look out for and to display explanations in textual form.
Offering similar program contents on several multimedia displays
Program contents that give the impression of participating in a workshop are popular as an effective aid to learning as visitors are encouraged to take an active role.
Simulation-style programs are a case in point, but the interaction remains very much on an individual level. The more interesting a program, the longer the display is monopolized by one person. The use of such displays may therefore cause long queues of visitors wishing to participate, namely to operate the devices by themselves.
One solution may be to set up various displays. Yet visitors are never sure that the next screen offers the same program as their own. They often appear to think that each display offers a different program and wonder which one they should begin with. They often therefore move on to the second display after finishing a first session.
Furthermore, interactive programs set up on several similar multimedia displays are not suitable for operation by more than one person. It is therefore difficult for visitors who come in groups to share in one another's simulation process or results, thereby creating less of a feeling of accomplishment and synergy than in an actual workshop.

Museum Lab's proposed solution:
In the 7th Presentation, each person operates an individual screen and is able to share the program contents with other visitors.
The menu offers a choice of several topics, in the form of objects to be shared to give visitors a sense of working together. The operational results appear not only on the individual screen displays but are also projected for everyone's benefit, thus providing the opportunity to share experiences as in an actual workshop.

Tips for a more detailed viewing of decorative arts
At the outset it was possible to take hold of certain decorative arts pieces and use them in daily life; touching them is now no longer an option for reasons of preservation. It is therefore very difficult to observe an object's details through a display case and visitors find it hard to gain a complete idea of the quality and degree of its workmanship.

Museum Lab's proposed solution;
In order that visitors to the 7th presentation can fully appreciate the decorative effects of the porcelain pieces exhibited, Museum Lab invites them to handle and manipulate them in a virtual manner by using 3D computer-generated imaging technology. By seamlessly linking these 3D images with very high-definition images, it is possible to view details that are difficult to observe using 3D computer-generated images alone.
Developing multimedia displays designed to be relocated in the Musée du Louvre
Two of the multimedia displays developed for the 7th Museum Lab Presentation are to be relocated to the Musée du Louvre in Paris, initially on a temporary basis in 2011 in the current Decorative Arts department, and then in the renovated site of the18th-century furniture collection, due to open in 2012. This is the first example of a lasting relocation into the permanent exhibition rooms of the Musée du Louvre of multimedia displays developed during the Louvre-DNP Museum Lab project.
Their development had to take into account all of the constraints specific to the Louvre in terms of both software and hardware, including: multilingual user interfaces to meet the needs of an international audience from various cultural backgrounds; a solid and resistant system, given that the Louvre plays host to over 8 million visitors each year; relevant programs that blend seamlessly into the exhibition areas without detracting from the artworks themselves. In addition, there are the architectural concerns involved when relocating to a historical monument such as the Palais du Louvre.
The risk of setting up a multimedia display next to an artwork in a permanent collection room is that visitors will concentrate on the multimedia program to the detriment of actually viewing the work itself. It is therefore important that the multimedia programs are designed as an integral part of the encounter with and discovery of the work. Their operation should therefore also refer to the actual works to give substance to the explanations; the programs should be consulted as little as possible independently of the works around them.

Museum lab's proposed solution:
Two of the displays in the 7th presentation have interfaces designed for use in situ in the Musée du Louvre.
The first offering, incorporated within the display case itself, consists in a visual demonstration focusing on the work, combining an audio-visual explanatory program with the accessories exhibited (the work's constituent materials).
The second display captures the visitor's interest by using a reconstruction that allows him to take to the stage as if he were an actual participant in the scene unfolding before him. By physically involving the visitor and providing him with keys to understanding the work, it seeks to encourage a highly imaginative approach to artworks.

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