Part III: How to Create Inspiring Museum Audio Guides with Kelsey Raschke.

In the July meeting of Museum Mindshare, our community gathered to discuss how to capture and hold visitor attention through museum audio guides. This month we’ll feature short interviews with some of our participants to share their advice and experiences in creating audio guides that engage and inspire.

Interview with Kelsey Raschke, K-12 Family and School Programming, The Paine Art Center and Gardens

What is your favorite thing about creating audio guides?

I love that it allows our visitors to learn new things and have “aha” moments that they might not have had while looking at our collection on their own. It’s helping visitors to see details that they usually miss. It also offers the opportunity for a deeper dive into content than you can accommodate through wall text. Audio has been especially great for our members, who return frequently, but can have a new experience by exploring our building through the audio tour.

What creative formats have you used for making audio guides?

I like to get creative with the ways that content is delivered. I’ve played with the order of images, texts, and audio that helps visitors to easily access ideas and stories that we’d like to tell. I try to anticipate how the visitor will experience the audio tours and work to make that experience engaging and enjoyable.

In terms of content, we’ve experimented with using different voices. For our highlights tour we’ve used staff. For special exhibitions, we’ve had the option of featuring the artist’s voice and that has been a real treat for visitors. Hearing from their unique voice and perspective on the work makes the content really come to life and exceeds visitors expectations.

How do you measure the success of an audio guide?

We mainly measure success through observation and visitor feedback. How many visitors are using the audio guides in the galleries? Did someone return a guide because it didn’t work? Our frontline staff is super helpful in providing real-time feedback on how visitors are experiencing the guides. We also use analytics to determine usage rates.

What advice would you give to museum professionals making audio guides for the first time?

Think outside the box! Don’t be afraid to try new things and tailor your content to different audiences. I’m excited to work on something for kids next because they are born tech users and this kind of experience is easy for them to navigate. Also, audio is an opportunity to represent different voices and perspectives, so get creative with who you feature on your guides.

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Co-founder of Gesso, next-gen audio guides for cities + museums. Follow for latest insights on audio, museum tech, travel tech, and more.