Hacking the Audio Experience: Museum Hack is part of SFMOMA’s New Tours!

Museum Hack - Renegade Tours

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Audio tours are a key aspect of museum’s visitor experience.  Done right, audio tours are a unique way to connect with visitors that may not like docent-led tours or prefer the freedom to learn about objects and spaces on their own.  Such tours also provide a cost-effective way for museums to foster deep engagement with their objects and spaces. 

San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art (“SFMOMA”) is reinventing itself as it prepares to open its new building.  SFMOMA was looking to completely reimagine visitors’ audio tour experience, by partnering with innovators in technology and storytelling.  First, SFMOMA partnered with Detour to reimagine how audio tours could be delivered: through visitors’ phones!

SFMOMA and Detour co-developed a mobile app that taps into visitors’ phones.  Using location-sensing technology in the phone, the app precisely triangulates where visitors are in the museum.  This location is cross-referenced with a high-resolution virtual map of the museum created by Apple.  Thus, the app knows exactly where visitors are and where they’re going – and then adjusts its audio accordingly. 

Now, SFMOMA needed expert storytellers to help them bring in new audiences while staying true to excellent content.  SFMOMA looked to groups who were already finding new ways to create adult museum experiences – including Museum Hack!

Ethan and Lia in a recording studio for SFMOMA.
Ethan Angelica and Lia Tamborra recording for SFMOMA’s new audio tours.

Lia Tamborra and Ethan Angelica worked with SFMOMA to produce one of their new audio tours.  They were given access to troves of information and the museum’s current audio offerings so that they could do their own remixing.  Lia and Ethan dug through the museum’s collections, finding their favorite objects and unique stories to tell visitors.  After hours of digging, reading, and researching, the duo implemented our signature 5 Elements of a Hack method and proven techniques for successful tours to design an audio experience like no other.

SFMOMA / Museum Hack’s new audio tour included discussing the Funk Art in 1950s and 1960s America with a California Artist, inviting visitors to dance with Matisse and twerk with Lilith, dive into an awkward romance with Frida Kahlo, and serenade a sculpture of Ruth Asawa.  The best part?  This tour was designed to get visitors to kinesthetically engage with the museum, do silly and unexpected things, and learn fascinating secrets and juicy gossip behind some of the greatest artists in the world. 

Using Detour’s technology, our insider’s look at SFMOMA’s collections allowed a longer-form experience than traditional audio tours, inviting visitors to discover the museum on their own terms and in completely new ways.  Ethan and Lia also worked directly with SFMOMA staff, ensuring that our entertainment-first, insider flavor met the museum’s goals and Detour’s unique technology and style.

“Museum Hack” is a Red Bull-paced tour designed for visitors who’d rather be playing GTA V. – Rene Chun of Wired.

Museum Hack is honored to be among the audio tour options on SFMOMA’s mobile app.  We absolutely loved hacking their audio tour experience, uncovering new ways to use our techniques and style to give visitors a one-of-a-kind museum experience.  We can’t wait to see the app in action when SFMOMA reopens this month.

Want to reimagine your audio tours? Contact us to learn how we can help reimagine your visitor experience and engage new audiences with your museum.

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