Partner Spotlight: Yale Peabody Museum

Image courtesy of Yale Peabody Museum

In April 2024, the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven, Connecticut reopened its doors to the public after a four-year, landmark renovation. As New Haven’s premier institution for exploring the story of life on our planet and one of America’s oldest museums dedicated to natural history, the Peabody approached its recent transformation with an eye towards reimagining its historic museum space and visitor engagement for the 21st century. 

“Since I started as the Peabody’s Director,” David Skelly told the Amuse team, “I have thought there should be digital access to content when you’re in a museum. I’ve been teaching for close to thirty years and I know that to be effective in reaching people, you have to go where they are. You have to offer content and information in a way that promotes uptake. That’s the way learning is going to happen.” 

As a partner of the Museum, Amuse is leveraging digital technology to help the Peabody break down old barriers to visitor engagement and exceed their goals for this next chapter. 

Here’s how:

Maximizing the new space

Even before the renovation began, the Peabody staff was rethinking how to communicate information to visitors. One idea for a new kind of visitor engagement was to do away with object signage altogether in the David Friend Hall of Minerals. When it opened in 2017, the stunning objects in the space became the focal point of the gallery, inspiring awe for the natural world without the distraction of lengthy labels. But there was a problem with this approach: how would visitors find out what they were looking at?

Amuse presents an exciting alternative to physical signage and museum guides with our interactive indoor map and QR codes. 

  • The Amuse app is location-sensitive, so museum visitors see where they are on the map and can easily find information about the exhibits near them 
  • The app is available on iOS and Android, giving visitors the ability to use their personal devices to engage with the museum’s content
  • Amuse forefronts short-form content, so users get information quickly and can choose to go deeper if their interest is sparked
  • And with features like Spotlights and Timelines, the Amuse app provides visitors with annotations for cabinet displays and streamlined provenance information

Amuse expands the possibilities of information-sharing within the museum in a way that resonates with visitors’ digital lives.

Participatory learning

An inviting new physical space for the Peabody Museum called for exciting new strategies for visitor interaction and participatory learning. The Amuse app gives visitors agency in the learning process by offering a variety of content designed to complement the physical exhibits and our style brings fun to the fore.

  • Trivia invites interaction and draws attention to details of the physical space that might otherwise go unnoticed
  • Short videos directly connect visitors to the Museum’s storytellers like staff and students and leave a lasting impression  
  • Thanks to our emphasis on short-form, Amuse content catches the attention of visitors without distracting or over-burdening them 

As Peabody Director David Skelly puts it, “There are infinite ways to experience [the museum], and it’s key that there are different modes of interaction.” Amuse’s short-form, entertaining approach to museum content encourages that interaction and a sense of play in the museum space. 

Creating an inclusive visitor experience with accessibility features

During the renovation process, the Peabody paid special attention to accessibility in the physical spaces and the way information is shared. Amuse shares this commitment and offers features in the app to supplement the museum’s efforts and welcome visitors of all abilities. 

  • Audio Description, dynamic text and image sizing, and screen reader support helps museum visitors with low vision get information
  • Our app leverages the accessibility features on an individual’s phone for the physical museum space
  • Amuse meets web accessibility standards and consults with leaders in the field to inform our product roadmap

Digital is an important component of accessibility strategy in museums and can adapt quickly to new developments in the field. At Amuse, we don’t just meet the standard. We listen to feedback from real users with disabilities and support content creators in reaching those people.

Reaching young people

Director David Skelly still remembers visiting the Peabody as a child on school trips. These early experiences led to an obsession with ecology and inspired him to learn all he could. Today, young people are just as susceptible to the learning bug as any generation before them, but the tools they use have changed. 

Alongside the museum’s dedicated staff for Student Programming and K-12 Education, Amuse is helping the museum engage young people across the university and the city of New Haven.

  • The Amuse app emphasizes low-commitment interactions and is inspired by tools familiar to young people such as social media
  • Amuse content is conversational, creating the desire to learn rather than simply trying to teach
  • Our platform features ample student voices in the form of videos, trivia questions, and more

Inspiring young visitors is essential to the work of the museum. As CEO Dakota Stipp puts it, Amuse is designed to “follow rather than lead” visitors to the things that pique their unique interests and kindle a desire to learn more. 

Welcoming the local community 

As a free institution in the city of New Haven, the Peabody is a museum for everyone. Amuse is specifically designed to strengthen relationships between museums and the communities they serve.

  • Our seamless map takes the user directly from the streets of New Haven into the newly designed museum
  • The Amuse app provides content both inside and outside of the museum and features stories from the public alongside museum insiders like curators and educators
  • While traditional guide apps require content that is platform specific, Amuse makes it easy to reach visitors across the app, social media, and onsite programming simultaneously
  • Amuse allows visitors to take the museum home with them - and return to it again and again
  • And just like Yale Peabody Museum, the Amuse app is free!

Community engagement doesn’t just happen within museum walls. It follows people when they leave, resulting in many small interactions in their daily lives, and Amuse is proud to make this possible.

What’s next

Amuse turns curious people into museum people by creating a dynamic, engaging visitor experience. We already prioritize conversation over lecture and place community voices alongside expert interpretations. 

We’re on the verge of a major shift in museum engagement. The future is dynamic, crowd-sourced, personalized, conversational, and shareable. In time, we’ll bring personalization, user submitted content, and gamification to the Amuse experience. 


Want to explore new ways of connecting with visitors at your institution? Book a virtual demo with us!

May 16, 2024