The main goal of each museum is to make its exhibits and activities accessible to all groups of visitors. With the permanent museum exhibitions there are many limitations, which is not the case with the World Wide Web and modern technologies.
Many museums have used mobile applications to improve museum experience and create new opportunities for visitors to additionally enrich the story, which is being told. On the other hand, these apps are expensive to develop, maintain and visitors often refuse to install them since they will be used only once.
One of the new trends in the Balkan museums is the implementation of QR codes (abbreviated from Quick Response Code). Compared to the BAR code, the QR code can transfer more information, including a link to a website where visitors can find more information. In this way, the museum exhibit on display is enriched with the background information.
With a small grant from the Balkan Museum Network, cultural heritage in the museum of Bitola is presented in a new way, taking into account that the website of the Bitola Museum is already designed as “responsive”, suitable for viewing on all mobile devices.
Some activities that increased the accessibility of museum was preparing descriptive texts (both in Macedonian and English), audio narrations and producing the videos in sign language for fourteen (14) representative objects from the museum exhibition. Next to each object in the exhibition, a QR code is placed, which when scanned with a mobile phone leads the visitor to an appropriate web location. The entire museum is covered with free Wi-Fi Internet connection, which was also enabled within this project.
The advantage of this approach is that visitors use their own smartphones and tablets, with which they can view, comment and share comments about the objects and the exhibition they are enjoying. Adding an audio narration, allows the visitor’s smartphone also to be used as an audio guide. Using fusing machine for the production of tactile images, the project team produce twenty-one (21) tactile images for the interpretation of museum objects. Some of these objects were also described with produced audio content that was tailored for the needs of blind and visually impaired visitors.
This approach is relatively new and in the following period it will be further tested and improved. The project was implemented in cooperation with the experts and organizations from the Balkan region and to our great satisfaction, the pupils from the Institute for Rehabilitation of Children with Impaired Hearing – “Koco Racin” Bitola, were the first to test the new services. It was evident that the children enjoyed seeing in person the objects from their school textbooks, presented in a sign language and with audio description.
This project was implemented with the support of the Headley Trust UK through the project of the Balkan Museum Network “Stories of the Balkans”.
Experts that took part in the realization of the project are:
- Irena Ruzin, PhD – Manager
- Jove Pargovski, MSc. – development of a platform and implementation
- Katerina Sharkovska, MSc. – sign language interpretation
- Tesalija Zhirova, MSc. – typhologist
- Silvana Petrova Nasuh – narrator in Macedonian and English
- Gimel studio – Mihail Markovski
- Texts: Vlado Gjoreski, Efrosinia Parevska, Jasmina Gulevska, Engin Nasuh, Viktoria Momeva Altipermakovska, Mary Stoyanova, Nade Gjorgieva, Nade Genevska Bracic, Risto Paligora
- Consultants: Zeljka Susic, Tatjana Mijatovic, Milena Milosevic Micic
- Logistics: Ilija Ivanov, Krste Kocov, Sasho Ruzhin