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The future of QR codes

  • 1.  The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-14-2022 04:23 PM
    Edited by Sofia Fernandez 03-15-2022 12:02 AM

    Hello,

    I'm a Master's student at the University of Southern California working on an article about the future of QR codes in museums: Are they here to stay? How will they be used?

    The technology is more accessible than ever in our post-pandemic reality - curious how museums are approaching this option and whether visitors are engaging. Please let me know if you are available to speak on this topic or have research leads.

    Much appreciated,
    Sofia M. Fernandez



    ------------------------------
    Sofia Fernandez
    Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles CA
    smfernan@usc.edu
    ------------------------------



  • 2.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-15-2022 11:49 AM
    Hi Sofia,
    What a great article topic. I've seen an uptick in the use of QR codes in my work at Artwork Archive. We work with collecting institutions of all types (including museums) and QR code labels are often generated by our clients. 

    They are used in a variety of ways and I am happy to share more detail. But here is a quick overview:

    - Internal inventory tracking: put QR code on wrapped artwork so you can scan and see the artwork record in your collection database.

    - Public sharing: Place a QR label with exhibited artworks so that you can share more information about the artwork, artist, time period etc. We're limited with the small Avery wall label so this way museums can share more information. A viewer would scan the QR code and be brought to their Artwork Archive Public Profile page which can include more information about the artworks and artists, and include videos, audio clips, documentation and more.

    - Direct people to more resources: Our clients can also link a QR code to a particular page on their website. So it could link to an exhibition page -- encouraging the viewer to learn more about the works in the show. Or linked to a donation page...

    They can also be included with public art works -- works out in the public space where space for didactic text could be limited.

    Here is an article I wrote about how organizations are using QR codes: https://www.artworkarchive.com/blog/qr-codes-your-art-collection-s-new-best-friend

    Cheers,
    Elysian



    --

    Elysian McNiff Koglmeier (she/her)
    Head of Growth
    Artwork Archive

    Part Time Hours
    Online: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays





  • 3.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-15-2022 04:10 PM
    Hi Elysian,

    Thank you for the thorough response! I'll review your article and reach out if I have questions.

    Sofia

    ------------------------------
    Sofia Fernandez
    MA candidate, Specialized Journalism (The Arts)
    Los Angeles CA
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-15-2022 05:01 PM
    Hi Sofia, I will be eager to read your article.  I agree, QR codes seemed to really sink into public consciousness during the pandemic more than ever before.  Bard Graduate Center Gallery has been using QR codes in a number of ways.
    • On our large format posters outside the galleries, so that the curious person passing by while walking down the street doesn't have to try to remember a URL
    • In our galleries to denote objects that have an associated audio component
    • On our direct mail promotional materials and print ads, so that we are removing friction and getting the prospective visitor from our ad to their ticket purchase with the least number of steps possible
    Unfortunately we haven't captured much data about how frequently the QR codes are being used, but I can report anecdotally that our last audio tour had huge traffic, much higher than I would have expected to see without the QR codes and our Visitor Services team promoting using them to link to the audio guide.

    Hope this is helpful!

    Amy

    ------------------------------
    Amy Estes
    Director of Marketing and Communications
    Bard Graduate Center Gallery
    New York NY
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-15-2022 05:18 PM
    Hello Amy,

    Yes, QR codes are gaining momentum. From what I'm hearing, it does not appear as if museums will ever go back. Thank you for the information about usage at Bard Graduate Center Gallery. 

    Appreciate it!

    Sofia


    ------------------------------
    Sofia Fernandez
    Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles CA
    smfernan@usc.edu
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-15-2022 11:06 PM
    One important use of QR codes is outlined in this blog about the value for visually impaired visitors:https://blogs.aaslh.org/increasing-accessibility-for-visitors-who-are-visually-impaired-simple-solutions-for-small-museums/

    ------------------------------
    Janice Klein


    Tempe AZ
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-22-2022 12:54 AM
    Thank you, Janice. Increasing accessibility is important, indeed. Best, Sofia

    ------------------------------
    Sofia Fernandez
    Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles CA
    smfernan@usc.edu
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-21-2022 12:26 PM
    Hi Sofia,

    We're certainly using them a lot, both in the museum for sharing info as well as in promotional materials (print ads, rack cards, etc.) and for surveys.

    Not sure whether you saw this, but at SXSW this year, several drones flew over Austin and created a QR code in the sky -- that actually worked! 
    I missed it, but those who saw it said it was pretty darn cool. 

    -Carlotta


    ------------------------------
    Carlotta Stankiewicz
    Director of Marketing & Communications
    Blanton Museum of Art
    Austin TX
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-22-2022 12:53 AM
    Thank you for the comment, Carlotta.

    ------------------------------
    Sofia Fernandez
    Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles CA
    smfernan@usc.edu
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-23-2022 08:57 AM
    We have used QR codes in a variety of ways but one of the most successful has been to place a QR code on our admission stickers that goes to our digital map. The digital map serves for basic way-finding but also serves as an overview tour of the museum's collections and temporary exhibitions. This has allowed us to migrate away from printed maps saving money and having a bit more of a sustainable practice in that arena.

    Mark

    ------------------------------
    Mark Osterman, Ed.D.
    Digital Experience Manager and Head of Education
    Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami
    Coal Gables, FL
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-23-2022 09:53 AM
    I haven't read any discussion about how the age of the visitor affects use of QR codes. As an older visitor, I get flummoxed by QR codes. When I try to use them with my phone, it's one way of looking at the work of art--without glasses-- and another way of looking at the QR code--with glasses. From my point of view, it's a way of saving the staff of putting up proper-size labels next to works of art and, in some cases, being able to pack more works of art into the gallery.

    ------------------------------
    Ward Mintz
    New York NY
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-24-2022 04:58 PM
    Thank you for the input, Mark. Your use case seems practical and straightforward. - Sofia

    ------------------------------
    Sofia Fernandez
    Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles CA
    smfernan@usc.edu
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-24-2022 12:59 PM
    We've definitely been using QR more leading through the pandemic. We recently installed an exhibit with all the label text both written and read aloud, with the later delivered via QR code. They're also handy for communicating long links to folks, so for instance we try to offer lecture style program both in-person and online via YouTube livestream, and we'll usually convert those links to QR.

    I think that QR is an interesting method to make URLs something more physical. Kind of a small, off-beat manner I've used QR for is with our docent program's Dropbox. Our docents, like many institutions, trend older, and I was trying to think of ways to make something inherently immaterial (like cloud based document sharing) more approachable. To that end, I created "Dropbox Cards" for our docents, just little laminated cards with a tinyurl link to the Dropbox as well as a QR code. They can stick them in a wallet next to a member card, tape them inside a desk drawer, or put them in a rolodex for the truly old-school. I'm not particularly monitoring the uptake, but I thought if just one or two find that approach helpful it will have been worth it.

    A final QR approach I'll mention is when we used it as the access method for an augmented reality experience in our gallery. We worked with an artist who had built a drawn AR component to add to their piece, and we hosted it as an Instagram filter, with the sharing link posted alongside the piece as a QR code. Folks who had IG installed on their phone (a much higher number than bespoke AR apps or a museum app) could just scan the code and it would automatically open on IG on their phones.

    I think the beauty of QR is it's universality, as they work across phone platforms and camera applications. The barrier to entry is soooo much lower than having to download an app of any kind, or even navigate to a website via phone. If someone has a smartphone, the things they are guaranteed to be able to do are basic texting, using the phone, and using the camera (and I speak from experience, my relatives have called me to ask for directions while they hold a map to the whole world in their hands haha).

    ------------------------------
    Drew Whatley
    Museum Educator
    Whatcom Museum
    Bellingham WA
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-24-2022 05:03 PM
    Hello Drew, 

    Yes, the barrier of entry is much lower now that iPhones and Androids have adopted the QR readers. That seems to be the most pronounced difference between now and pre-pandemic. 

    Thank you for contributing to this discussion. This is quite the collaborate forum. I'm impressed.

    Sofia

    ------------------------------
    Sofia Fernandez
    Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles CA
    smfernan@usc.edu
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-26-2022 07:33 PM
    Hi Drew,

    A couple of follow-ups:

    - What's the name of the exhibit you mentioned where the label text is written and read aloud?
    -What was the museum's first use of QR codes in anything? Looking for a year or month/year and its application.
    -What's the artist's name who built the AR component for the show? 

    Thanks!

    Sofia



    ------------------------------
    Sofia Fernandez
    Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles CA
    smfernan@usc.edu
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-24-2022 04:08 PM
    Hi Sofia, 

    We are exploring an increasing use of QR codes in three upcoming exhibitions at the National Museum of Natural History. I am interested in reading your article and better understanding use trends across cultural sectors. We are using QR's to launch multilingual translations of exhibition materials offered via mobile app, chat-bot experiences that provide mediated explorations of an exhibit, web-based event calendars and resource extensions on clean up events and civic action items in areas where visitors ask "how can I get involved," and mobile-friendly web contribution modules that allow visitors to contribute feedback and stories while viewing other visitors' contributions. 



    ------------------------------
    Siobhan Starrs
    Exhibition Developer
    National Museum of Natural History - Smithsonian Institution
    Burke DC
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-24-2022 05:00 PM

    Hello Siobhan, 

    Wow, sounds like the National Museum of Natural History is embracing the technology. Thank you for the info.

    Sofia



    ------------------------------
    Sofia Fernandez
    Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles CA
    smfernan@usc.edu
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-24-2022 06:21 PM
    Hi Sofia 

    You've chose a very interesting topic to discuss!
    Here I would like to share a case study about QR code to you. 
    In 2017, Shanghai Museum loaned the exhibition 'A history of the world in 100 Objects' from the British Museum. 
    Usually, it is a tradition that the British Museum provide 100 objects, and the venue museum add 'the 101 piece' to the exhibition to share their thinking and understanding. 
    While Shanghai Museum chose a QR code to be the 101 object which was a very bright and great idea. 
    QR code is so widely used in China today, not only in museums, but people also use it for money transfer, add new wechat friends, follow and subscribe official account, follow blogger and personal account, etc. So it seems that the museum really did a great story-telling to put the 101 object as the QR code.
    The more interesting was, 'the object QR code' linked to the official wechat account of Shanghai Museum, so visitor can really scan it and the follow the account and read more information about the exhibition. By doing this, the museum attracted over 300,000 new followers!
    So maybe it is a case to show that the QR code itself is also an object of human history that can be display in museum. 

     


    ------------------------------
    He Xu
    International Project Manager
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: The future of QR codes

    Posted 03-26-2022 01:00 AM
    Hello He,

    Thank you for taking the time to share a case study. The wechat follower increase is impressive. And yes, I imagine the QR code will become a historical object at some point. 

    Best,
    Sofia

    ------------------------------
    Sofia Fernandez
    Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles CA
    smfernan@usc.edu
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: The future of QR codes