The Petrie Museum worked with a graduate student at the Bartlett School of Architecture and Built Environment to test the use of RFID cards (like Oyster Cards) for engaging visitors in the museum. We set up 4 “swipe” stations where we asked visitors to respond to museological questions.
*I like the look and feel of the Petrie Museum and think it holds a distinctive place in the museum sector. 59 visitors
*I do not like the look and feel of the Petrie Museum because it is dated and claustrophobic. 3 visitors
*I like 3D models of objects because they allow me to see objects in more detail and from different angles. 49 visitors
*I do not like 3D models because they distract you from the objects and you can never learn as much from a copy as from the original. 5 visitors
*I like the display of human remains because they place human presence at the centre of our view of the past and provide valuable historical and scientific information. 55 visitors
*I do not like the display of human remains because they may offend the cultural practices or wishes of the individual’s descendants. 10 visitors
*I like the idea of repatriation and believe that museums should return ancient artefacts to their countries of origin upon request. 27 visitors
*I do not like the idea of repatriation because ancient artefacts belong to the world and thus should be on view around the world. 37 visitors
It appears that the issue of repatriation of objects remains divisive with 42% of visitors stating that they like the idea of repatriating ancient artfacts to their country of origin.
ENGAGEMENT USING RFID TECHNOLOGY
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the ease of using an RFID card, such as an Oyster Card or student ID card, facilitated visitor engagement within the museum. The biggest barrier to using RFID technology is explaining how the technology works when visitors enter the museum. However, if visitors get familiar with seeing swipe stations (like Oyster Card readers) in museums, it is likely that there will be signficant uptake in use. The benefit to museums is wide ranging – not only will it give them a mechanism for collecting feedback from visitors, it can also track visitor movement within the museum and connect visitor behavior to demographic data (if connected to a database where RFID cards are registered to specific users.
The Petrie Museum will continue to work with researcher Mortiz Behrens to explore the use RFID technology on an inter-organisational level.