Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History


Interactives with Social Impact

With a mission to open minds and change lives through the exploration and celebration of African American history and culture, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History has long been a community gem for Detroiters. In 2020, the museum sought to expand its reach to national audiences through engaging digital experiences.

As the Wright team prepared for the opening of their temporary exhibition, Voting Matters, they decided to launch two digital experiences alongside it: Voting Matters and The Wright Museum GalleryGuide.

Voting Matters is an in-gallery interactive that would later live on as an education-focused online exhibit which illustrates the role of Black Americans in securing the right to vote, from the Civil War and Reconstruction to present day America. The Wright Museum GalleryGuide is the mobile guide available through the website, Google Play, and the App Store for visitors seeking to explore the museum’s ongoing exhibition programming and permanent collection.

The Wright team launched Voting Matters in the months leading up to the 2020 election and successfully launched their mobile guide to celebrate Black History Month. Read more to hear about their process and long-term plans for both apps.

  • Advanced Interactives
  • Mobile Guide
  • Voting Module
  • Project Engagement
  • Full Service, Hybrid & DIY
  • In-gallery Interactives
  • Online Exhibitions
  • Self-Guided Mobile Experience

In-Gallery & Online: Digital Interactives for Temporary Exhibitions

The Wright team wished to launch an Advanced Interactive for the public to engage with onsite while touring the Voting Matters temporary exhibition as well as online through the museum website. This would ensure the broadest audience possible would be able to engage with the Voting Matters multimedia content while also creating a long-term learning experience online, far beyond the temporary exhibition.

For the temporary exhibition, the museum team installed several in-gallery touchscreens which displayed the Voting Matters digital interactive. The content strategy was broken into 5 categories:

  • Pre-Reconstruction
  • Post-Reconstruction – Civil Rights
  • Women’s Suffrage
  • Electoral College
  • Gerrymandering

Each section aligned with a space in the physical exhibition so as visitors progressed through the Voting Matters exhibition they could accompany their learning with interactive multimedia content on the touchscreens.

The museum team also carefully folded in voting experiences to help visitors process what they had learned and turn those learning moments into actionable voting experiences. When a visitor placed their vote, they could immediately see the cumulative votes of all visitors on that specific question. The Wright team also displayed weekly updates on these cumulative votes on touchscreens within the space.

Voting Matters

The Wright Museum team activated their content and visitors through voting experiences. Using the Voting Module, visitors can share their opinion with the museum and its audience.

Transitioning to an Online Exhibition

While the physical exhibition concluded in December 2020, the online exhibition continues to be available as a digital companion living on through the museum website. Audiences are presented with a responsive web experience which works across all devices including their desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones.

Museum audiences are free to continue to engage with the multimedia content and voting experiences which means the museum team can amass a significant amount of data from their national audiences who are contributing through their voting action.

The museum’s education team plans to expand the content available in the long-term and serve K-12 audiences more directly.

A Mobile Guide for Everyone

In anticipation of Black History Month, the museum team focused on launching The Wright Museum GalleryGuide, a mobile guide which would highlight all exhibitions, past and present. Each exhibition would offer visitors 3 approaches to learning about the exhibition:

  1. The Deep Dive: the full content experience, this tour features both multimedia and text rich for those visitors wishing to explore the full exhibition story through the staff’s research and writing, video and audio experiences, as well as a treasure trove of photographs and artworks.
  2. The Visual Tour: for visitors with a preference for learning through visual resources, this tours focuses heavily on sharing exhibition installation photographs as well as collection photographs with short but descriptive captions. A user simply has to swipe through the collection of images to grasp the message, physical layout, and key exhibition pieces.
  3. The Audio Tour: this audio focused tour is for those audiences that wish to listen without having to engage with the screen, multimedia or text. The museum team developed full audio stories for this tour.

The Wright team makes this mobile guide experience available onsite through QR codes, on the website via the web app, as well as available on Google Play and the App Store so the app does not just tailor to different learning styles but also, their audiences’ preferred communication channels.

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