A deeper look at the British Museum's audio guide

The British Museum's rentable audio guide, offered in 10 different languages, covers 260 Museum objects with audio and video commentaries.

We take a closer look at the features and highlight the top take-aways below.


The best of the best

Some visitors want to see the whole Museum, while others only have time to see most famous objects. Enter the Top 10 tour and Highlights. The British Museum spent 5 weeks consulting visitors at every step of the design and development process and found that some visitors moved through the museum in either a structured or unstructured way (often transitioning between both).

The British Museum audio guide has three main sections: View highlights, Take a tour and Explore the collection. Presenting the content in different ways allows visitors to 'choose their adventure' based on their own interests.

Accessible & inclusive

The British Museum's main audio guide is designed for "independent adult visitors" in 10 languages. The Museum also has available:

  • Family game guide
  • Audio descriptive guide
  • British Sign Language guide

The Museum opted for an application on a smartphone over the conventional model of rental devices so that the audio guide was a device that visitors expected, and was familiar with using.

Closing the loop

One of the main challenges of rentable devices (vs. BYOD) is often the missed opportunity to personalise visits. The British Museum added a visual 'Your Visit' feature that keeps track of what stops have been visited and sends the 'digital souvenir' to visitors via email.

"...the British Museum has little experience with a BYOD model for paid apps. The commercial imperative to improve and develop our successful on-site guide business overrode the temptation to experiment."

Audio guide at the British Museum

How effective and successful is the new audio guide?

The British Museum reported an increase of sales over 20% within the first two months and longer visitor dwell time. The audio guide, sponsored by Korean Air, complements the Museum's permanent collection and officially replaces the ageing guide that had been in place since 2009.

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