Pleasing visitor responses to the Haus der Seidenkultur Mingei apps

Author: Cynthia Beisswenger

At the Haus der Seidenkultur (HdS) in Krefeld, Germany, the participation of the museum’s enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers in the Mingei project has led to the installation of a new self-guided tablet application and the improved digital presentation of information about the museum’s ecclesiastical silk crafts heritage. Here Cynthia, the most active museum volunteer in the Mingei project, shares what she has learned about the public response to this digital innovation, now part of the permanent exhibition.

The Mingei applications

HdS is now home to a tablet app that guides visitors through the museum and narrates the socio-historical context of the museum exhibitions. The application uses ten hot spots in the museum, each one connected to relevant narrations and audio-visual presentations that unveil the hidden treasures of the craft of textile manufacturing. In addition, scannable items and artefacts in the museum allow the user to access even more information that is not included in the museum application. The museum tour guide is available in English and German, facilitating greater international reach.

Anecdotes and feedback from the first testers

Some 50 visitors have tested the new Mingei apps and the majority found them pleasing and interesting. “We now view our town from a completely different perspective“, say those who discovered Krefeld on the silk routes.

“Attractive options for fun and entertaining participation in convivial company have also been developed for game enthusiasts at Haus der Seidenkultur“.

That was the assessment of participants in a workshop where the new apps were tried out.   

Particular attention was paid to the tablet app which guides individual visitors through the museum. This is the task of an avatar who tells them where to go. “The path leads into an exciting future with new options for innovative presentation,” is how it was perceived by a 60-year-old visitor. Another guest was pleased that they herself could decide just how much they wanted to learn about the job of, for example, the card puncher.

A person well-versed in the local cultural scene confirmed “that the protagonists at the museum have succeeded once again in combining the past, present and future of the “Town like Silk and Velvet…Obviously a competent team was at work here!”

A representative of a local organisation for disabled persons observed that the audio guide was an opportunity for the museum to be more accessible to the local disabled population:

“It is now possible to recommend that our visually impaired members visit the museum as individual visitors because all the impressions are audibly well-communicated…Deaf persons as individual visitors also profit from the new technology because they can access the guide text themselves.”

The opportunities and challenges of digital vs personal guided tours

The digital guided tour is an opportunity for HdS because it presents a way for visitors to be able to experience the museum without having to be led around by a volunteer. This means that more visitors at different times can experience the museum, for example, at times when there are only one or two volunteers working. It is also available in German and in English, opening the museum to more international visitors. Yet irrespective of all the advantages of the new apps, those who tested the apps (and the digital tour) unanimously stated: “A digital guided tour is one thing, a guided tour with a weaver, point paper designer and “Schwadroneur”  – as one of the guides calls himself – is quite another”. Such a personal and individual impression is very difficult to replace, whatever technology is used.

Test the Mingei apps at the Haus der SeidenkultuurNow we are interested to hear your opinion. Why not visit the museum and experience our new apps for yourself! For those further afield, you can explore more about the Mingei protocol used in the digitisation and representation of the craft of silk making in Krefeld and the objects and processes digitised on the Mingei Open Platform.

Scroll below local press excerpts about the new apps.