Mobiles, Tablets and Museums, oh my!

You can be too helpful

Some of you may have followed the recent rise in thefts from museums. Investigations have shown many of the more collectable and sought after items stolen are taken to order. There is evidence to show that criminals use the detailed information about objects online or in apps and tours for mobiles and tablets, including their locations in museums, to plan thefts.

A selection of objects from RAMM

A selection of objects from RAMM

The result of this is that the museum sector has worked with the police to analyse where museum security is at risk form organised thefts. Both the Museums Association and the Collections Trust have helped museums with practical advice to address this risk.

Implications for mobile trails

From a museum perspective the dilemma is we want to share our wonder and information about our collections but as stewards of the collections we must safeguard them for the future too. We also have a rise in visitors accessing our information via mobiles and tablets – an average of 24% of visitors to the RAMM website use their mobile or tablet.

Regular visitors to RAMM and this blog know about our current in museum tours for mobiles and tablets. These address objects but do not give precise location or value details. The latest advice is take this approach, as giving precise locations can allow someone to plan a theft without setting foot in the museum!

This is disappointing for us as we were working with 1010 Media to get locations to within a metre. This would have given a trail inside the museum with very precise point to point locations and easy for a visitor to follow. However, while the current advice still stands we won’t do this which means there will still be an element of exploration at RAMM even with a trail to guide you!

Screenshot of the RAMM museum tours website

Screenshot of the RAMM museum tours website


About Rick Lawrence

Digital Media Officer at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter, UK
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