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TMCNet:  Reading Public Museum, visitors will ride digital wave

[January 09, 2013]

Reading Public Museum, visitors will ride digital wave

Jan 09, 2013 (Reading Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- In the near future, you'll be able to wave your smartphone at many of the Reading Public Museum's displays -- such as that fierce Japanese warrior -- and watch a video of how armor was used in battle.


Or wave it at the mummy Nefrina, and maybe get an audio clip of an Egyptologist performing an autopsy.

Thanks to a $12,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation, the museum announced it will launch what it calls RPM 2.0, a pilot project that uses cutting-edge technology allowing visitors to interact with the collections.

It's part of the museum's push to change how it presents its artifacts, from new galleries with fewer objects but more memorable displays, to focusing more on areas with the strongest collections rather than showing a little bit of everything.

John Graydon Smith, museum director and chief executive, said he's grateful to the Verizon Foundation for the grant, which he said will allow the museum to technologically evolve. The grant was presented by Todd Darlington, Verizon director of external affairs.

Essentially, the museum would create digital materials -- videos, diagrams, explanations, audio tapes and photos -- that don't crowd the display space but are accessible through devices such as smartphones or iPads.

To get the extra material, visitors would wave their smartphones at the display, and the material would show up on their screens.

In techno-speak, visitors would use a smart device already loaded with a free QR code reader app, and they would "wand" a display's QR code -- that square, funky-looking black-and-white tag that's beginning to show up everywhere.

At first, the move would allow touring school groups to get a deeper knowledge of the collections, in part by bringing in extra content that could even include outside voices such as professors, scholars and artists.

Eventually the nonschool visitors would get the chance.

Michael Anderson, museum marketing director, said among the new programs will be digital materials for student tours, giving the docents or guides access to a wealth of resources -- such as showing an image of what a fossil animal might have looked like while alive -- to better explain the galleries and make the interpretations more vivid.

So-called digitized artifacts would allow guides to rotate, lift and zoom in on an object even if it's not on display, he said.

And he noted there's the potential of creating a museum map, so visitors could quickly find the artifacts they're interested in or create their own personal digitalized tour.

Contact Don Spatz: 610-371-5027 or dspatz@readingeagle.com.

___ (c)2013 the Reading Eagle (Reading, Pa.) Visit the Reading Eagle (Reading, Pa.) at readingeagle.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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