I found this article, on using interpretive technology at the fine arts museums in San Francisco, was particularly interesting especially since I have visited the deYoung multiple times in the past (I have not yet had the chance to visit the Legion of Honor). This article goes over what Voices:FAMSF is, as well as its aim to combine the visitor’s experience with the art piece with sound to enhance their experience. (On a side note, I thought it was amusing that they decided to use the outdoor sculptures at the deYoung so they could get a better GPS read, since the deYoung has notoriously horrible cellphone reception.)
It’s interesting how these fine arts museums, the ones who are usually less flexible and more resistant to change, are trying to embrace technology and integrate it into the user experience. Maybe this is just the spirit of San Francisco, the city with such a tight-knit relationship with technology and the industry. As someone who grew up the county over, it has always been a given that the (big) museums have always embraced and accepted technology. SFMOMA, before it closed for reconstruction, had large digital displays in the entryway. There are two museums, the California Academy of Sciences and the Exploratorium, dedicated to technology (although not from an artistic standpoint).
In its beta phase, Voices:FAMSF noted that through the usage of their application, user engagement did increase, and that people actually felt like they were having a more holistic, stronger engagement with the art. Since the application takes visitor comments and uses them to generate a platform for discussion, both from the museum and the community, they hope to increase user engagement and understanding of the art at both of the institutions. While the app may not be ready for the public, their early beta testings are showing that embracing technology can be a good thing for museums.