Chapter 19: Enhancing Museum Narratives: Tales of Things and UCL’s Grant Museum

by Claire Ross, Mark Carnall, Andrew Hudson-Smith, Claire Warwick, Melissa Terras and Steven Gray


Chapter Abstract:

Written collectively by a group of academics, curators, and designers, this chapter looks at the utilization of mobile media for enhanced meaning making and narrative engagement in museums. Focusing on the collaborative project, titled QRator, they analyze the ways that QR codes have been incorporated into the Grant Museum as a means to increase the amount of information available about museum artifacts and, perhaps more importantly, involve the museum-goers in discussing that content. Comparing the QRator project to other mobile museum projects, this chapter demonstrates the emerging trend to incorporate the “Internet of Things” into the experiences with historical objects. In the context of ubiquitous computing, in which devices are embedded into innumerable facets of daily life, objects can be connected with data in seamless and meaningful ways. This data can be contributed to, commented on, and altered by users as a means to bring historical objects to life and tie them into contemporary conversations about how objects become integral to the ways we practice modes of historicizing.


Hands-On Exploration:

This exercise asks the class to curate a collection of meaningful objects for each person. Using the Tales of Things app, the class members will each choose an object in their life that is important to them and give it a story using Tales of Things. Classes may organize this library of important objects based around a theme.

  1. Go to the Tales of Things Website
  2. Click on Add a Thing at the top of the site
  3. Give it a name, a story, keywords, an image of your object, and mark its location.
  4. Click “Add Thing” on the bottom right
  5. At the top dropdown menu, select “QR Codes” and then print out your code on a label. Place it on the object.
  6. On a predetermined day for your class, everyone brings their objects with the QR fixed on them.
  7. Set up a museum of your objects. Scan the QR codes for the other objects in the room.
  8. Leave comments and reactions about the objects, the stories, and insert your own stories about encountering these important objects.

This project can then be expanded to include the class visiting a museum and drafting a proposal for how a QRator project, like the one discussed in chapter 19, could be implemented and the advantages of creating this kind of experience for museum goers.