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TFMA Mobile Tour Guide App wins Gold Award at AAM Muse Awards

The winners of the Muse Awards have been announced by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). TFAM won the Gold Award in the “Mobile Experience” category for its audio tour guide app that enables the user to learn while on the move.
The jury’s comments included: “This simple and compact mobile tour guide app developed by TFAM provides an interactive experience on several levels and is both surprising and enjoyable to use.”
The TFAM mobile tour guide app was developed around the idea of a micro-museum. The audio guide for each exhibition features curators sharing key curatorial concepts or artists discussing the origins of their creation. In this way, both artists and curators can share their ideas about artistic creation in an in-depth guided tour without geographic limitations.
Users can key in exhibit reference numbers and use the app’s iBeacon Bluetooth function: when their mobile device approaches an exhibit, the audio tour guide cues up the relevant explanation and the user can click to listen. This gives the user the freedom to take whatever route around the exhibition they prefer.
TFAM is located near Songshan International Airport, so aircraft frequently fly in at low altitude. In homage to Kuo I-Chen’s Invade the TFAM (exhibited at the 2004 Taipei Biennial), the app interface uses AR technology to allow users to view the ceiling of the 1F mezzanine through their smartphones and see virtual images of the airplanes’ undercarriages as they fly overhead.
Another level uses Scenery near Yuan-Shan (1928), a collection of images by Kuo Hsueh-Hu. When users look through their phones in the direction of Yuanshan, the image recognition technology detects the Yuanshan of today outside and presents images of Yuanshan’s past on the screen in a seamless juxtaposition.
In addition to visual representations, the aural work of Laila (Chin-Hui) Fan, a field recording artist heard at the Taipei Biennial 2018, will also be used to simulate the environmental soundscapes of low-altitude mountain species in conjunction with the 90-year-old painting Scenery Near Yuan-Shan.
When users have progressed through all these levels, the 3D AR drawing functions are unlocked, turning the image on the mobile device into a canvas and allowing the user to play freely in the exhibition space and share the images on social media.
Interactive installations in specific locations such as selecting fortune cards or finding the elements of a work and completing 3D jigsaws are used to lengthen the visitor’s stay time between levels. This integration of augmented and virtual realities allows the visitor to discover the links between the artworks, the museum’s geographical location, and alternative ways of remembering space and time, thus providing more space for imagination and exploration.
This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the Muse Awards, established by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and M&T. Mainly honoring cultural organizations such as museums, art galleries, libraries, and archives that promote user experience and public participation, the awards have long been regarded as an important institution.
The award committee evaluates submissions once a year, with a focus on creativity, innovation, education, and inclusiveness. In the past, renowned institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Paul Getty, National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and the National Museum of Natural History have won this award.

(​Text & images by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum)