I searched the web for articles on how museums use or could use AI. Here’s some of the more common uses:
- Use AI predict no shows
- Use AI identify and catalog art
- Use AI providing voice assistants
- Use AI sentiment analysis for visitor comments
But here’s the one I like the most: Deciding which art stays in the museum and which art gets the boot.
I found just one use of AI in this way. The Istituzione Bologna Musei in Italy has used cameras to track patron interest and facial expressions to determine which art is the more engaging.
How many museums or theme parks or other entertainment or experience would benefit by augmenting their decision making to include the use of AI to determine how people are reacting to different touchpoints?
This seems like a great way to know if the organization is accomplishing what they hope to accomplish at touchpoints and how to make improvements.
Visitors would benefit. Museums would benefit. Society would benefit. Everyone except maybe those who currently hold all the power to decide what goes in the museum would benefit. And I’m sure many of the people with “they eye” for art and the “experience” would fight it just like the scouts in Moneyball. But the cultures that thrive are the ones that have and use the best tools.
As just one common example, the Blanton Museum in Austin has over 20,000 works of art. The gallery building is a relatively modest size and over 99% of the art (my guess based on my visits) has never been in the museum. Instead it sits in a warehouse somewhere that most people can’t visit.
How did they choose what is shown and what is not? And more importantly how do they know they made the best decisions to serve their patrons? How do they change with the times? What about when new art is bought or donated and put in the warehouse? Do they ever reconvene the deciders?
It seems like some testing and feedback with patrons would go a long way in making a museum that is best for everyone.
If they knew that some of the art was never given much attention, what might happen?
Two obvious choices are stick it back in the warehouse or sell it. Then replace it with something else from the collection.
But chances are the art is there because the curators feel strongly that the art needs to be there. Instead of treating the AI feedback as a “keep it or ditch it” situation, they could then experiment with ways to convince visitors that the work is worth their attention. Then, of course, they can test and see how much more engagement happens.
I’m interested to see how these technologies make their way into more museums.