Naturalis Museum app

The renewed Naturalis is a museum to experience. Richly filled rooms where you can wander around. Where you can be surprised by all the beauty that nature has to offer. But what if you want to know more about the objects? Or if you mainly want to see the highlights?

Naturalis approached us with the question how visitors can be helped in their experience. The museum had done a lot of preliminary work and already had good content. A quality solution was therefore obvious: a new museum app that offers both in-depth information and tours, such as that of the Rijksmuseum.

The basis
Each successful app needs a good basis. Although there were lots of great ideas about experience, interaction and practical information, we first wanted to focus on what visitors really need. These core needs are the main reason why people install a museum app at all during their visit. The following principles have therefore been guiding in the development process:

  • Enrich. The app must enrich the museum visit, not replace it. The app provides guidance and background information where necessary, but the visitor must leave the screen and enter the museum as quickly as possible.
  • Relevance. The app helps visitors find depth when they want to.
  • Flexibility. There is tailor-made content for various target groups: for schools, families, researchers, et cetera. The app is also flexible in terms of editing: the fixed routes can contain a lot of information, but a temporary route must also be able to be created quickly.

Collection and routes
As a goal for a first version, we wanted to impress with two things: object information and routes through the museum. These two really had to be perfect.

The Naturalis app already offers detailed descriptions of more than 1200 species and 3400 objects from the collection during the launch in August 2019, such as the Woolly Mammoth - our favorite. You can find the information at the object you are standing for by searching on the Dutch or the scientific name.

You can also find ready-made routes through the museum in the app. Routes are objects that are linked to each other within a certain theme or an (educational) assignment. For example, you can choose a tour that takes you along all the highlights and there is an extensive evolution route. Naturalis is now busy adding more tours quickly, because we have enabled the editors to make (temporary) museum routes very easily, like a personal tour by the well-known Dutch biologist Freek Vonk.

Museum app for multiple institutions
We have built theNaturalis iOS and Android app on a generic technical architecture that can also be used by other heritage institutions and attractions. Overarching components thereof include the concept of objects and object information, of routes and navigation, a CMS in which the routes are managed and a publishing mechanism. This construction provides a major financial benefit because the development of the app is spread over several museums. The renewed natural history museum in Leiden is the first institution to use this. More museums and amusement parks will soon be launching our own app within our new framework. If you want to know more about the possibilities of our museum app, send an email to Martin:martin@q42.nl.