Metropolitan Museum of Art taps mobile game to drive visitor traffic
By Rimma Kats
May 24, 2012
The Met mobile game
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has rolled out a mobile game that lets visitors take part in a murder mystery adventure that also doubles as an interactive tour of the American Wings artwork and artifacts.
The museum partnered with mobile tour application platform TourSphere and gaming developer Green Door Labs on the mobile initiative. The mobile game lets visitors engage with the newly-reopened American Wing, and learn more about the pieces.
The world-renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art was seeking to celebrate the reopening of their American Wing, said Robert Pyles, CEO of TourSphere.
The smartphone app leads visitors on an investigative journey through the Museum to get them excited about art and engage visitors, especially the younger audience, he said. To play a murder mystery game surrounded some of the world's greatest art? That's pretty exciting.
Part of the reason that the Met partnered with Toursphere on this project is that we were able to provide an app that would work on any smartphone device and wouldn't require programming.
The Metropolitan Museum of Arts Murder at the Met: An American Art Mystery can be accessed from any smartphone or tablet device.
The Web-based app guides users through the galleries of American paintings, sculpture and decorative arts to solve a murder mystery.
The fictional plot is set in an evening gala in 1899 and revolves around the murder of Virginie Gautreau, who was immortalized by John Singer Sargent in the portrait Madame X.
Visitors can take part in the tour and play the role of detectives.
According to the museum, the goal of the game is to determine the who, where and how of the murder.
Additionally, the app provides three possible paths through the galleries, each having a different storyline and culprit and can be played repeatedly.
Users can download the game by entering http://www.metmuseum.org/madamexmystery into their mobile browser.
Users can learn how to play the game
The app was developed as a Web-based application meaning it works on any smartphone or tablet device with a full browser, Mr. Pyles said.
While it looks like a native app, the Met or any other museum using TourSphere's app builder doesn't need to build several separate apps that work on different phones, he said.
They're able to provide a single app that works for anyone with a smartphone, reaching the largest possible audience of visitors.
Word of mouth
The app was recently launched at a special teen program event held at the museum.
More than 150 high school students, dressed in 19th century costumes, came out to play the game at the event.
In addition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is promoting the app online via their official blog and through their online social media outlets.
Apps like Murder at the Met help to draw visitors into a museum and give them an experience they have never had before, Mr. Pyles said. It's surprising, it's fun and it's a little bit irreverent.
Who goes to a museum expecting to play a game? Or expects the objects to be involved in a murder mystery? he said.
It's not your typical experience of quietly contemplating the art - or listening to an audio tour where the information is one-way. This is a two-way interactive experience that doesn't just encourage engagement it requires it.
Here is a demo of the mobile app
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