Title:Prototyping AR in a University Museum: How User Tests Informed an Accessibility Plan Including and Beyond the Museum
Authors:Max Evjen
Publication:MW2019: MuseWeb 2019

In summer and fall of 2017, the Michigan State University Museum worked with a Michigan State University student on the development of an augmented reality (AR) pilot project, focused on a mural depicting a Michigan wetland area in the museums' Hall of Animal Diversity. A few additional animals (a bird, a turtle, a duck, and a dragonfly) appeared in different areas, and additional text interpretations appeared with AR animals, in addition to animals shown in the mural. User tests were conducted in fall of 2017 and spring of 2018. Analysis of the user test commenced in fall of 2018, and results will be reported by December of 2018. Early results of the analysis show that despite the fairly simple design of the AR program, visitors indicated surprise and delight with the experience and indicated learning about animal behavior in an area of a gallery that is often overlooked by visitors.

While user tests show promise for developing the AR experience throughout remaining long-term galleries, conversations between the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD) and the museum have been centered on using AR as a constituent part of an overall accessibility plan that may apply to the MSU Museum, as well as the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum of Art and the College of Arts and Letters.