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Akron Art Museum Puts The 'Dot' In Your Phone with New Digital Tour Guide

photo of Akron Art Museum Dot
Akron Art Museum staff unveil 'Dot,' the new digital tour guide who is accesible to anyone with Facebook Messenger.

The Akron Art Museum has a new employee: she never eats, she never sleeps, and she’s ready to give tours to every single person who walks into the building.

The new digital tour guide, Dot, lives within the Facebook Messenger app. The goal is to provide information on the museum’s collection and also stimulate conversation among visitors.

Virginique Whitmore, an Akron Public Schools high school teacher, was at the launch party for Dot. She says the app has a major advantage when it comes to reaching her students.

“Because it’s electronic, it will keep the students engaged and it will allow for hands-on interaction. Because it forces them to actually look for things. Rather than just taking a quick browse [and say] ‘Oh, that was boring.’ They actually have to do an application.”

The app is the culmination of almost two years of brainstorming and design work led by Museum Director Mark Masuoka.

“This is a 21st century version of those guided tours and headphones you used to put on when you would visit museums. And the difference is, it’s interactive. So depending on what your responses are, it’s a two-way conversation between yourself and Dot, and also gives you many more options to explore the museum in ways that you’ve selected.”

Dot can take visitors on a custom tour of up to 60 pieces in the museum. While the app is currently unique to Akron, museum staff will be showcasing the idea to colleagues from around the world at the Museum Tech conference this fall.


Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.