Visiting the MMB (Barcelona)

Barcelona Maritime Museum (MMB). It was created in 1929. It is a big museum that only closes 4 days per year.

They are very active and have all sorts of different projects going on at the same time:
- they house a team of entrepreneurs building the first Spanish civil submarine (construction that all visitors can see),
- they opened the first space in Barcelona that allows drug addicts to drug themselves in a safe and hygienic environment,
- they just won a prize for having multimedia guides with sign language, the building is also completely accessible,
- a 3 day conference on museums best practices,
- they have a weather station,
- and so on...

The building and collections
The Museu Marítim de Barcelona is located in the building of the royal shipyards, which dates from the 13th century. It has 8.000 m2 of permanent exhibition without any type of separation, only columns. It includes model ships, nautical instruments, ex-votos, maritime paintings, figureheads, cartography, the replica of the royal galley of Juan de Austria, and the schooner Santa Eulàlia (which is an extension of the museum placed in Barcelona's old port).
They building requires lots of maintenance and they will be soon closed for a couple of years (except for the museum activities and the temporary exhibition). They have to change most part of the roof and rebuild it as it was originally. They have to update all the electric system which includes taking out the floor and profit to do archaeological excavations before putting it back with radial heat. The complex is a zone about which little is yet known from a historical perspective and they have a lot of research hypothesis.

The audience

About 30% schools
The majority of visitors are tourists.
Not many old people
Lots of families during weekends

The museum project
The director's idea is to redefine completely the museum's project during this couple of years that it will be closed. Their main ideas / principles:
- Museums have an educative role towards all of its visitors, not only students. New educative project to teach in the museum and outside.
- A museum equals knowledge management, therefore research; specially collaborating closely with universities and other institutions.
- The museum's goal is to show the relationship between men and the sea, to show the maritime culture in a broad sense including music, literature, food (therefore it has effects on the restaurant, as well).
- Some of the museum values are innovation, creativity, social values and responsibility, accessibility.
- They want to build a museum of experiences, emotions.
All together it means "erasing" the 80 years of museum so far to create a completely new one.

The website

This whole new approach includes rethinking the website as well. They have had 2 websites so far.
The current one is 4 years all and it is easy to manage and to add information collaboratively (for the museum staff). Updating the website is seen as part of their daily job and not as something one does when they have time. In most museums, websites and ICT in general are seen as specific to the communication department and not having effects across all museum departments. Here ICT are for everyone.
The new website will require more imagination and more compromise from the museum's employees. They want to make it more participative and collaborative. They want a "web 3.0 for a museum 2.0".
They see the website as another tool to communicate with visitors, a relationship that is very important to them.

The multimedia guides
They had the traditional audio guides during 5 years.
The multimedia guides are 3 years-old, they are free and available to everyone. For each number, the guide contains text, audio, pictures, video and recommendations (like recipes, other museums to visit, bibliography, etc.). They also allow visitors to register and receive the information they save to their email. With this registration, they will also receive text messages about the museum activities.
This project, as well as the new website, is very time-consuming, specially because the communication with the engineering company is not easy and they do not seem to understand their needs and wants.
The consequences of this lack of fluent communication are visible in the current multimedia guides projects:
- they wanted to build a two way communication system, but it is just one way now to the point that visitors can not unregister.
- the message visitors receive with all the saved information has no design at all, or structure or a way to communicate back with the museum.
- the CMS for managing the multimedia guides has no relationship at all with the website and is very basic: the 1000 files are shown all in a list (they keep track of them on a paper), there is no way to edit any file once it's in the system...
- the automatic massive update of the mutlimedia guides has never worked. They have to take the memory card of each device in order to update its contents (more than a 100 devices).
What they want with new website is to have all the contents of the multimedia guide also on the website, to send visitors a link where they can find the saved information instead of a message (with more information and links to other parts of the website), to build a bidirectional communication with visitors.
Regarding the guides, they would also like to add itinerary information, but this has sense if a visitor can choose and prepare his / her itinerary before the visit.
The post visit also interests them a lot: they want to receive feedback from visitors and promote the network of museums.
The multimedia guides are very appreciated by visitors.