Classic museum guides all work on the same principle: The museum or gallery decides what you as a visitor should know about a particular exhibit. But what do the visitors actually think about the works?
The »MuseumGuideBot« focuses on YOUR experiences, your impressions and your opinions. You become a curator and able to share your thoughts with other interested parties — and vice versa: you find out what the visitors have to say about an exhibit.
My (beta) museum guide exists as a chatbot on the free app Telegram. You can find the bot by typing @MuseumGuideBot in the search bar of the Telegram app.
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How does the MuseumGuide works?
In these 5 steps I will explain to you how to use the MuseumGuideBot:
- Write /start to get an explanation. The chatbot sends you 6 short text messages explaining how it works.
- Check into a museum. With the command /museum you get an overview of all museums for which there are already texts from users*. With the command ‘/museum YOUR MUSEUM’ e.g. /museum museum of modern art new york you check into a museum. You do NOT have to check into an exhibition — a museum is sufficient.
- Which artworks already have descriptions? Write /ids to the chatbot afterwards to get an overview of the IDs of all exhibits for which there are already texts from the community. An ID is a so called identification number (more information in the next section). Most of the time those exhibits have an ID (like 45) for which there is also an entry in the classic audio museum guide.
- Share your thoughts. After you have checked into a museum (see step 1) you can, for example, use the following command to publish a text for the artwork with ID 45:
/submit 45 The Blue Horses always amaze me. I wonder if they were the model for Milka’s purple cow?
And already you have anonymously deposited a text for the artwork with the number 45 for the whole community.
- Find out what others think about art. If you or someone else now check into the same museum and write /info 45, they will receive YOUR text about the exhibit with the number 45: The Blue Horses always amaze me. I wonder if they were the model for Milka’s purple cow?
Since only the most current description of an exhibit is stored, there is always something new to read. So if your friend also enters a text for the artwork with ID 45, your text will be overwritten.
What is an ID?
An identification number (ID) is a unique number (45) or combination of numbers (4H5) to uniquely identify an exhibit.
If there is an ID for a work of art, you can usually find it on the small panel next to the painting. There you can also often find the title, the artist and some information about the work. If there is an audio guide article about the work of art, you will also find this ID number on the small board, e.g. 45. You must use exactly this number in the Telegram Museum Guide.
If you don’t find an ID that can be uniquely assigned to the artwork/exhibit, the Museums Guide will unfortunately not work. 😭
Information for museums
Museums can use the chatbot, by taking the user’s perspective and add an »official« text for some exhibits. In this way, users do not start on a white screen and receive impulses for their visit to the museum.
A museum can also find out what the users really think about the exhibits. Which are well received, which are rarely used?
In order to offer as much creative play space as possible, museums can give their exhibits a unique identification number. This can be done easily and inexpensively with a small sticker on the information sign. Underneath it is a QR Code that links to the Telegram Chatbot or simply print the short url: t.me/museumguidebot.
Data storage and Data processing
If you use the bot, I only have access to the following information:
- Your Telegram ID (so the bot can send you messages) — but not your name or phone number
- Your currently checked in museum (so that the bot only sends you the information about this museum)
- In addition, the system stores which IDs and which texts are entered, but I cannot trace this back to the specific user. Of course I have to save this information so other users can access it.
- The code is publicly available on GitHub and the bot is hosted on pythonanywhere.com
Of course Telegram also processes your data that you send to the chatbot. You can find Telegram here: https://telegram.org