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Location Aware: Museum Mobile Applications as an Interpretive Tool

Thesis by Lauren Messenger (2015)

The goal of this research was to describe the ways that the specific technologies available to smartphones, such as location awareness, afford new opportunities and strategies for interpretation of exhibit content and audience engagement. On-site analysis guided by principles of interpretation and design, and interviews with museum app developers, suggest that museum apps are considered effective as interpretive tools when the smartphone technology is used in a way that serves the content being presented. All of the institutions surveyed were interested in creating mobile apps that focused on augmenting the experience that visitors might have through traditional interpretation or exhibit content, rather than imitating it. A survey of professionals indicates that a more complete understanding of the audience of museums apps is still required within the field for there to be certainty about their effectiveness and impact as interpretive tools.


Keywords: research, interpretation, digital technology, education, information design, mobile app, smartphone


Messenger, L. M. (2015). Location aware: Museum mobile applications as an interpretive tool. (Order No. 1599875). ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1730400116). Retrieved from