FluidEngage > Design Activities > Research: Visiting the MMB (Barcelona)

Muriel Garreta Domingo murielgd at uoc.edu
Sun May 17 20:48:06 UTC 2009


Continuing with the visits to some of the museums in Barcelona, on Friday I
went to the Barcelona Maritime Museum (MMB). It was created in 1929. It is a
big museum that only closes 4 days per year.

They are very active and have all sorts of different projects going on at
the same time:

- they house a team of entrepreneurs building the first Spanish civil
submarine (construction that all visitors can see),
- they opened the first space in Barcelona that allows drug addicts to drug
themselves in a safe and hygienic environment,
- they just won a prize for having multimedia guides with sign language, the
building is also completely accessible,
- a 3 day conference on museums best practices,
- they have a weather station,
- and so on...

*The building* *and collections*

The Museu Marítim de Barcelona is located in the building of the royal
shipyards, which dates from the 13th century. It has 8.000 m2 of permanent
exhibition without any type of separation, only columns. It includes model
ships, nautical instruments, ex-votos, maritime paintings, figureheads,
cartography, the replica of the royal galley of Juan de Austria, and the
schooner Santa Eulàlia (which is an extension of the museum placed in
Barcelona's old port).

They building requires lots of maintenance and they will be soon closed for
a couple of years (except for the museum activities and the temporary
exhibition). They have to change most part of the roof and rebuild it as it
was originally. They have to update all the electric system which includes
taking out the floor and profit to do archaeological excavations before
putting it back with radial heat. The complex is a zone about which little
is yet known from a historical perspective and they have a lot of research
The audience
About 30% schools
The majority of visitors are tourists.
Not many old people
Lots of families during weekends

*The museum project*

The director's idea is to redefine completely the museum's project during
this couple of years that it will be closed. Their main ideas / principles:

- Museums have an educative role towards all of its visitors, not only
students. New educative project to teach in the museum and outside.
- A museum equals knowledge management, therefore research; specially
collaborating closely with universities and other institutions.
- The museum's goal is to show the relationship between men and the sea, to
show the maritime culture in a broad sense including music, literature, food
(therefore it has effects on the restaurant, as well).
- Some of the museum values are innovation, creativity, social values and
responsibility, accessibility.
- They want to build a museum of experiences, emotions.

All together it means "erasing" the 80 years of museum so far to create a
completely new one.

*The website
This whole new approach includes rethinking the website as well. They have
had 2 websites so far.

The current one is 4 years all and it is easy to manage and to add
information collaboratively (for the museum staff). Updating the website is
seen as part of their daily job and not as something one does when they have
time. In most museums, websites and ICT in general are seen as specific to
the communication department and not having effects across all museum
departments. Here ICT are for everyone.

The new website will require more imagination and more compromise from the
museum's employees. They want to make it more participative and
collaborative. They want a "web 3.0 for a museum 2.0".

They see the website as another tool to communicate with visitors, a
relationship that is very important to them.

*The multimedia guides*

They had the traditional audio guides during 5 years.

The multimedia guides are 3 years-old, they are free and available to
everyone. For each number, the guide contains text, audio, pictures, video
and recommendations (like recipes, other museums to visit, bibliography,
etc.). They also allow visitors to register and receive the information they
save to their email. With this registration, they will also receive text
messages about the museum activities.

This project, as well as the new website, is very time-consuming, specially
because the communication with the engineering company is not easy and they
do not seem to understand their needs and wants.

The consequences of this lack of fluent communication are visible in the
current multimedia guides projects:

- they wanted to build a two way communication system, but it is just one
way now to the point that visitors can not unregister.
- the message visitors receive with all the saved information has no design
at all, or structure or a way to communicate back with the museum.
- the CMS for managing the multimedia guides has no relationship at all with
the website and is very basic: the 1000 files are shown all in a list (they
keep track of them on a paper), there is no way to edit any file once it's
in the system...
- the automatic massive update of the mutlimedia guides has never worked.
They have to take the memory card of each device in order to update its
contents (more than a 100 devices).

What they want with new website is to have all the contents of the
multimedia guide also on the website, to send visitors a link where they can
find the saved information instead of a message (with more information and
links to other parts of the website), to build a bidirectional communication
with visitors.

Regarding the guides, they would also like to add itinerary information, but
this has sense if a visitor can choose and prepare his / her itinerary
before the visit.

The post visit also interests them a lot: they want to receive feedback from
visitors and promote the network of museums.

The multimedia guides are very appreciated by visitors.


All together, a very interesting visit!

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