Visit Brooklyn Museum (BKM), and enjoy a new and, for now, perhaps unique opportunity to ask anything about the works you see. Thanks to BKM’s ASK App, visitors can engage with a curator, via text, to ask anything. It’s a simple, magnificent, and groundbreaking experiment in meaningful engagement, made possible by a three-year grant from Bloomberg Connects. It’s also fantastic for the things it is NOT.
CURATOR-DRIVEN – NOT
This is not an audio guide, scripted and voiced by museum staff. There are no preloaded images or labels. It’s a very simple text connection to a staff expert who can answer almost any question you have about a work. The visitor poses a question. Maybe includes a photo. And the engagement begins.
A SALES TOOL – NOT
There is no store with groovy swag on the app. No “Donate Now” button. Nothing for sale. Just a friendly answer to your goofiest or most incisive question.
A SECRET PROJECT – NOT
Brooklyn Museum and Bloomberg Connects have not envisioned ASK as a proprietary technology, meant to give BKM a competitive advantage over its peers. The code for the app is open source, available at GitHub. The BKM Tech Blog offers us all a front-row seat to the team’s goals, ideas, lessons, and dead-ends.
You can do it too. Open a channel – even the smallest one – between your customers and your staff. Post the 10 most frequently asked questions of your staff or docents. Interact online with a style and vocabulary that are welcoming, helpful, trustworthy. Keep track of what you try + what you learn. When you invite your customers to create content with you, everyone gets smarter. And you may just engage a customer-for-life.