Jul 29 2019

The Jewish Museum is reimaging the typical audio tour by embracing a less-is-more approach.

The makeover, developed with Code and Theory (C&T) with funding by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is "intuitively" designed to be extremely accessible, available both on-site and off-site, via the website at Tours.TheJewishMuseum.org, explains Ben Berentson, group director, Creative Strategy, C&T.

"You can have a complete experience [at the museum], but then you can look back at what you saw at home," says Berentson. Or those living outside New York can virtually learn about Jewish history and view historic pieces without stepping foot inside the space.

Museum directors were clear about needing a "straight-up website," not app, without a complicated on-boarding process. They didn't want to overwhelm the museum's core older visitor, he says. Ultimately, we wanted to empower and be an enabler for a better experience, Berentson adds.

The museum and agency wanted to refrain from "cramming in unnecessary stuff" and flooding the experience with too much content, says Berentson. There is supplementary content, but we didn't want to distract from "experiencing a 200-year-old artifact."

The tours come in several educational-themes, including Jewish Rituals, Kids & Family, and a podcast-style conversation recognizing Stonewell 50. The Artists' Voices tour feature notable personalities, such ass Maira Kalman, Isaac Mizrahi, Arlene Shechet,and Kehinde Wiley, discussing their favorite Jewish Museum pieces, as well as their inspirations and work processes.

All tours are designed to compliment the museum's less structured floor plan. The Jewish Museum is housed in the former Warburg mansion, build in 1906, during the Gilded Age. This means exhibits tend to move around and be regrouped. As a result, it was impossible to develop a traditional audio tour that is more sequential.

By formatting the guides in a narrative setting, visitors are invited to have a more fluid and open experience. Berentson says: "This experience creates a much richer connection with the artworks, providing additional history, context and media, for those interested in a deeper dive."