National Palace Museum expands its younger audience with new on-site and off-site mobile tour

National Palace Museum
Country: Taiwan
City: Taipei
Institution Type: Art
Year Founded: 1925 (1965 in Taipei)
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Though around 5 million people visit the National Palace Museum (NPM) in Taiwan every year, the NPM team knew there was a need to engage more with children and teens. With that in mind, they called upon content partner Antenna International to help them develop a new experience that would appeal to younger audiences and expand their global reach.

Armed with feedback from focus groups of their target demographic, the team held ideation sessions to map out the new experience. The outcome was a clear list of priorities: it must be educational, incorporate gamification, encourage young visitors to engage with each other and the museum’s collection, and deepen NPM’s global footprint. These objectives were then incorporated into the production of a bespoke, interactive experience that can best be described as a team-based, digital treasure hunt.

The multimedia tour centers around 10 objects from the NPM collection and is meant for two or more players. To start, visitors must select a player identity—either the Cub Scout or the Young Detective. While it’s not essential to have both players, it certainly helps, as each person picks up unique clues along the way.

The Young Detective and the Cub Scout are greeted by the Museum Director who informs them that an evil villain, the Time Bandit, has stolen pieces from the museum’s collection and thrown them back in history. The Young Detective and Cub Scout are tasked with recovering the missing pieces and given a map and clues they can use to physically find each object in the museum.

Once they make it to an object, visitors find an access code that they must use to confirm success. The code also unlocks an immersive audio track that takes the Young Detective and Cub Scout back in time to the point in history when the object was made and lets them take part in conversations between craftsmen and royalty who lived in that time. A whimsical approach, this audio keeps young visitors engaged while still being informative.

After each audio stop, visitors are given an interactive challenge related to the object—a pop quiz or a design game, for instance. Only once visitors finish the challenge do they receive new clues that allow them to move on to the next object.

A few stops on the tour are designated as Super Power Stations where, in addition to the audio and interactive challenge, visitors are asked questions about the object that are meant to inspire them to think more deeply about the culture and history the piece represents. Upon victory, players are assigned an NPM Superpower—such as “Creativity” or “Logic”—based on their responses. Their NPM Superpower is revealed at the end of the tour, along with a tour certificate, which they can personalize with a photo and share on their social media.

The tour is available via a mobile app that visitors can download on their phone from Google Play or the Apple App Store. The app is also preloaded on devices offered by the museum for those who don’t want to download it. Players can even use the app remotely and experience the same fun with an option that takes them on the same treasure hunt with a few variations to account for the fact they’re not on-site.

The tour’s availability as an app went a long way in helping NPM achieve its goal of increasing its global reach, as did the team’s unique approach to translating the tour to English. Originally created in Mandarin, the Antenna team’s script writers and translation team worked diligently to develop a culturally accessible English version of the tour. They took special care to maintain the original significance of the Mandarin while interpreting vernacular, idiomatic, and cultural nuances in a way that would appeal to an English-speaking audience, allowing the team to launch the tour worldwide for users to enjoy wherever they are.

Once launched, the tour received considerably positive feedback from visitors, with many saying it provides a more fun and effective way to learn and experience the NPM collection. Some even commented that it reignited their interest in the museum.

“It’s easy to sit back and maintain the status quo when you’re a major institution, like NPM, because your existing audience is already very large. However, we wanted to push past the status quo and create something unique,” said Hsu, Hsiao-Te, Director of Department of Education, Exhibition, and Information Services of NPM. “Antenna was the right partner for us to do this with because they have a truly global team that has worked with some of the most renowned institutions around the world: this means they bring a highly experienced point of view to the table and industry-proven skills which in this case helped us expand our concepts and think differently about our tour. The outcome of our partnership is an innovative, engaging experience that we’re proud to deliver to audiences worldwide.”

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