The Problem

How can art museums be more user-friendly while still prioritizing art and art education?

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The Why

Museums can be overwhelming and pedagogical, often leading to poor user experiences. Visitors, especially novice visitors, are hard pressed to take meaning from museums, find the specific path they should take, and see how art relates to them. Kleo bridges physical and digital tools to provide a smart phone tour application that allows for customization, contextualization, and easy navigation in a user’s museum experience.

The Goals

To create a memorable and accessible experience for novice visitors that creates interest and conversation between visitors and the museum itself.

How might we...

  • bridge the gap between physical and digital?
  • support different interests of different visitors?
  • support flexible decision making?
  • create emotional/personal connections between museum goers and artifacts?
  • add context to the content?
  • encourage sharing?

The Audience

Based on academic papers we sourced, we identified our main audience as low-involvement museum visitors. We broke those people down into a few different segments.

First Time Visitors

Tourist, New Local

Repeat Visitors

Student, Experience Seeker, Recharger


Parent/Child, Teacher/Student

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The App

Users can take curated tours highlighting current museum exhibitions, explore the collection through mood or color based tours, create their own tour or simply wander around the museum. Each piece is documented and provides a background to the piece in a way wall text can't as well as guides the viewer at how to look at art.
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First, we filled out empathy maps for three audiences: Museum Goers, Curators and Museum Owners. A big takeaway from this exercise is that we needed to understand the museum’s perspective more.
After, we brainstormed How Might We’s. We picked out the problems we were most interested in and put them into buckets: How might we give visitors the confidence to not understand everything? How might we give visitors a tailored, meaningful experience? How might we measure our effectiveness?
Using these prompts, we brainstormed quick ideas for solutions. Looking back, a lot of our ideas from this brainstorming session made their way into our MVP.
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Professional Interviews

Based on our exercise, we realized we needed to understand the museum's point of view more, so we set up interviews with professionals who worked with or at these organizations. These interviews were to empathize with a new audience, but we were also looking to potentially partner with a museum to execute the project.
At this point in our process, we were considering many avenues for a final product and deciding whether we wanted to partner with a local museum, use a space at Northeastern, or create a pop-up museum that explored our ideas. We decided to pursue a partnership because we thought that although we would need to deal with museum bureaucracy, it would give us the best opportunity to deal with space and a large collection of work. We were originally most interested in the MFA due to its proximity, traditional space, large collection, and it was a good example of the problems we identified.
We eventually ended up partnering with the Harvard Art Museums due to their extensive API and their interest and support of working with a student group. Although we have made a point not to brand our product as a Harvard Art Museums app, much of our capabilities are only possible because of their large effort to digitize their collection, thus serving as an example for what is possible if a museum makes such a commitment.
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Testing & Development

We are currently undergoing user testing and polishing up the UI of Kleo. By using an agile process, we are able to simulatinously develop the core app while testing and creating new features.