Four Inexpensive Ways to Use QR Codes to Engage Your Customers – American Alliance of Museums


An illustration of a visitor pointing a smartphone at a QR code next to the girl with a pearl earring

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QR codes can create links between your physical museum and the virtual world, all with the click of a button from a customer’s mobile device. You can create QR codes for free using the many tools available on the Internet, and they can link to absolutely anything, from web pages and videos to online games and immersive experiences in virtual reality. Here are four inexpensive ways to use QR codes to engage your customers:

1. Treasure Hunts

Finding simple new ways to inspire customer interaction is easy with a QR code-based scavenger hunt. Place QR codes near related artifacts, where each QR code leads to a web page that tells something important or exciting about the artifact, then gives a clue to the next one.

Start the hunt by giving your customers a clue on where to find the first QR code. Your clue can be anything, even a riddle. The thing is, it should be something that keeps customers looking! You can be completely mysterious and just tell customers that the first QR code is in a specific room or be specific and tell them exactly what they are looking for.

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Your scavenger hunt could reveal the story of a historical figure, clue by clue, or it could show connections between a group of artists – use your imagination! You can offer a prize to customers who complete the entire treasure hunt. Prizes can be something physical, like a pencil or sticker, or they can be virtual badges that patrons share on social media that showcase their accomplishments and advertise your museum.

Make sure your frontline staff understand the scavenger hunt and know where to find all the QR codes. You may need to create a map for them that explains the game and its purpose so they can help customers engaged in treasure hunting.

You can print QR codes in almost any color, so if you want to have scavenger hunts of varying difficulty or on varying topics, you can assign a different color to each scavenger hunt.

2. Improved interpretations

Your walls have limited space, but you have a wealth of information you want to share about each artifact in your museum. You can use QR codes to save space and give all the information you want your customers to know.

For example, imagine you have a painting that has been meticulously restored in an extensive process spanning several years. You may only have enough room on your wall to list the artist, era, and a quick paragraph explaining what is depicted in the painting. However, if you include a QR code on your wall plate, it could link customers to a video explaining the restoration process and showing how it was done.

If you have a little extra budget, you can create a learning interactivity where customers can scan a QR code, view the painting in its original state on their mobile devices, and then interact with it to see each step of the process. restoration and how it improved the condition of the painting. This immersive activity would create a memorable impression for patrons and help them understand the care and attention to detail required to preserve historical artifacts.

3. Engage all customers (even the youngest ones)

Think of the most complicated exhibit in your museum. Does he use figurines or miniature models? Are they easy to see and understand? And when your museum is crowded? Can people of all sizes and visual abilities see the room well and understand it?

Adding a QR code to a complicated exhibit could help you bring new meaning to the exhibit for all customers. You can link to a webpage where customers can see photos of the entire model and zoom in. You can divide a larger piece into smaller pieces so that customers can learn more about individual pieces. You can link to videos that explain the events that take place in a complicated model.

Even if your museum doesn’t have a super-complicated exhibit or model, you probably have exhibits that go over the heads of some of your younger visitors, literally. Adding QR codes for artifacts hanging high up could help younger visitors better see and interact with everything in the room.

Air and space museums have wonderful collections of historic flying craft, but patrons often wonder what they look like inside the cockpits. The latest VR technology could allow patrons to scan a QR code and virtually tour the interior of each flying machine, all without leaving the museum floor. While these experiences may have been prohibitively expensive a decade ago, 360-degree cameras are much cheaper now. Combined with VR software, you can create immersive experiences quickly and easily.

4. Replacements for missing parts

One of the greatest contributions of museums is to loan pieces from their permanent collections to other museums so that more patrons can see and enjoy them. Unfortunately, lending a room also means empty spaces on the walls and in the windows. Some museums print out photographs of loaned pieces to put on the wall, but missing pieces are a great opportunity for a QR code-based experience.

In the space the loaned part belongs to, you can provide a QR code that links to a web page about the loaned part. The webpage could show an image of the piece, where patrons can zoom in on it, as well as its interpretation, and even a video explaining the piece and showing it on loan to the host museum. This way, the part is not “missing”; it is simply translated into a new form.

QR codes offer endless possibilities for patrons to interact with artifacts and exhibits with their mobile devices. Download the free WeLearn eBook Magic of mobile technology to learn more about how you can use QR codes and leverage your contributors’ mobile phones to create exciting new learning experiences.

About WeLearn

We are learning is a bespoke learning and media agency focused on delivering learning for their partners and the learners they serve. WeLearn specializes in the design and development of multimedia experiences that engage learners in the learning flow, enabling them to acquire knowledge, synthesize thought, and explore new ideas and perspectives.

Our team of creatives, educators and technologists understand the power of technology to create modern, beautiful, relevant, engaging and impactful learning experiences for small and large audiences. Our partners trust us to bring their best ideas to life.

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