Release Date: July 30,2018

The Akron Art Museum wants you to connect with Dot, a new digital tour guide

The Akron Art Museum invites visitors to connect with Dot, a new digital tour guide that will rev-up your visits to the museum. Whether you come with family or friends, Dot will make your next visit an interactive experience. The museum will introduce Dot to everyone during a launch party on Thursday, August 2, 2018, at 6:00 P.M. in the museum’s Beatrice Knapp McDowell lobby.

Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Dot is the culmination of more than 18 months of planning and prototyping to create a chatbot (a computer program designed to simulate conversation with humans) that visitors can connect with via Facebook Messenger on their smartphone to create an interactive tour through the museum. However, Dot is no ordinary tour guide. She’s designed to facilitate conversation and deeper connections with small groups of friends or family members who take one of her tours.

Akron Art Museum John S. Knight Director and CEO Mark Masuoka said, “When we were planning a digital product that would enhance visitors’ experiences at the museum, we explored different ways to interact with visitors and present them with information about the artwork they were seeing. We found that they didn’t necessarily want to feel like they were getting information from a curator or a museum staff member. They wanted to talk to each other—the friends and family they were visiting the galleries with. We created Dot to help make that experience more dynamic and interactive for everyone.”

Knight Foundation’s support of the program is part of its arts and technology initiative, which aims to help arts institutions better meet changing audience preferences and use digital tools to help people better experience and delight in the arts. Akron Art Museum was one of four institutions in 2017 to receive support from Knight Foundation to pilot projects that deepen the use of technology to attract and engage audiences.

“Art museums searching for new audience engagement strategies in the digital age will find plenty to learn from Dot. The program offers a model for using technology to connect people to art and to each other,” said Chris Barr, Knight Foundation director for arts and technology.

The launch party is free and open to all. Guests will have the opportunity to connect with Dot for the first time on their phones by searching AAM Dot in the Messenger app. Guests can also enjoy snacks from the Mustard Seed Market guacamole bar, along with Dot-inspired cotton candy from the Art of Sucre. Beverages will be available from a cash bar. Visitors can also create magnificent selfies with a Dot-themed backdrop and props.

For more information about Dot, the Akron Art Museum’s digital tour guide, visit the museum at akronartmuseum.org. Connect with Dot through the Messenger app by searching AAM Dot. Join the conversation on social media and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.