Some people still think of museums as organizations stuck in the past, unable to keep up with zeitgeist. Canadian Museum of Nature, however, is a stunning example of how far from the truth that can be. They cooperated with bv02, a digital creative agency based out of Ottawa, specializing in creating compelling digital engagements and built an interactive project allowing museums visitors to explore the principles of evolution. They used iBeacon to enhance the UX and prompt people to dig deeper into exhibition’s content.
Canadian Museum of Nature is an institution with over 100 years of history. Despite their tradition spanning three centuries, they do not hesitate to test emerging technology and see how it can impact visitors’ experience. They invest in mobile and multimedia, and at the end of 2014, with help from bv02, they launched a completely new project. Evolution @ Nature is a context-aware game for the Mammal Gallery, taking advantage of five Estimote Beacons placed around the exhibition hall.
The rules of the game are simple: at the beginning, each participant is given a creature - a blob that can later evolve into a fish, reptile, insect, goat or bird. Then, each time they visit a beacon, the creature develops new, randomly chosen features. It can be a change in color, new diet (herbivorous/carnivorous), addition in the form of glowing eyes or luminescence, or ability to make new sounds. After all five steps are completed, you end up with a fully developed creature that you can share with friends on Twitter. It’s a bit like playing Spore while exploring a museum.
What makes this project special, is how much value bv02 managed to extract from a very simple concept and deploying just five beacons. Clear narrative, built around the exhibition’s context, proved to be the right approach, and adding a social layer only increased engagement. Canadian Museum of Nature initially tested Evolution @ Nature app with 150 users, who made more than 1,500 interactions with beacons and evolved 330 creatures.