Home Museum Offers Real (Human) Guides Online

Museum Offers Real (Human) Guides Online

Museum aan de stroom – a brand-new city museum covering the art, shipping and folklore of Antwerp, Belgium – is offering web visitors real, real-time guides. Through June 7, visitors to the museum’s website can interact with, and direct, flesh-and-blood guides through their Discover the MAS Live program and website.

Using your computer, you “capture” a live guide and, your arrow keys, direct him or her to explore the museum for you in real time.

The service is available during museum hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. As the museum said in its announcement:

“You can direct your ‘private guide’ to walk through the museum. You instructions are translated into directions the guide receives on his PDA and he’ll obey every command you give him. The guide carries a camera so you can see the exposed masterpieces and works of art as if you were at the exhibit yourself.”

After hours, the website is still available and its video channel offers canned tours on topics ranging from Antwerp’s classical heritage to masterpieces from the museum’s collection to a tour of the city with its former poet laureat, Tom Lanoye.

To interact, instantly, across great distances is one of the thrills the Internet affords. To add people more functionally to the equation makes it even more so. Now take machine-interactions, add people and contextualize that interaction in what promises to be a very interesting new museum in one of Europe’s capitols and it’s super happy family fun time. I am very interested to see if this cyborging turns into a real trend.

Has anyone seen a machine-human pairing along these lines? If so, let us know in the comments.

Museum facade photo by Arend

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