You have the visitor's attention for one minute. What do you say?

One Minute is a smartphone web app that uses image recognition to identify artworks in the museum and offer visitors short, bite-size reflections about them.

Visitors use the app to scan an artwork. The app displays a text about the artwork that can be read in less than a minute. The texts pose interpretive questions to the visitor and are divided in “cards” which create natural breaks in the reading, helping the visitor direct their attention away from the mobile screen and back to the artwork.

The heart of the system is the story editor, which provides a format and a set of guidelines for writing stories that direct the visitor’s attention to the details within the artwork. In user testing, we have found that stories written with these guidelines are more readable and engaging than existing interpretive texts found in museum databases.

Museum labels should meet the visitor’s information needs in order to catch their attention. Therefore, One Minute was designed with two specific goals in mind: 

  • to provide the visitor with a quick, personal story about the object.
  • to direct their attention to the object, instead of their phone.

Test users have reported that the app provides a format for simple, yet personal storytelling, and encourages them to direct their attention to specific details within the artwork. 

I usually skip reading the labels because it takes away my focus from the artwork. With this I actually use the story while I’m focusing on the artwork. It’s really cool.
Test user, The National Gallery of Denmark

I liked how the story wasn’t served in “one big plate”. For every bit I felt like “ahh that’s exciting” and then I read the next one “ahh that’s exciting”. It’s like a mystery being solved.
Test user, The National Gallery of Denmark

When One Minute was designed, we wanted to make sure that the app could act as a companion, rather than a distraction.

The storytelling format is designed to elicit thoughtful responses to artwork, as it encourages visitors to observe details and ask rhetorical questions. The app presents “bite-sized” chunks of information, where visitors would look at a question, observe the artwork, and then swipe left or right to the next one.

Kevin Bacon, Digital Manager at Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove reports that the app provides a distinctively personal approach to storytelling. Such stories have been described as “uncomplicated”.

I like how the stories are written, you wouldn’t see the phrase ‘what a love story’ on normal museum labels.
Test user, The National Gallery of Denmark

I like that you can reference things that are not typical, such as a ladies hat […] it makes visitors notice things in an artwork that they probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
Test user, The National Gallery of Denmark

How does it work?

One Minute can be freely adopted for your museum with minimal technical resources.

You’ll be able to create an account and register your museum.

Use our story editor tool to create your own stories. The tool can be used on your computer or mobile device.

Visitors can download the app and scan the artwork around them.

How will this tool be supported?

One Minute will be released as open source and can be freely used and adopted by any museum. It is currently in a beta phase, and will be made available for testing before the end of 2019.