Have you ever been lost in a museum?

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Guide map

I’ve visited a lot of excavation museums around the world, and more often than not I have ended up getting lost – Where am I? What is it I am looking at? Am I getting the right information about this building?

Being lost is one thing, but I can’t help starting to wonder – Did I miss anything extraordinary back there? Did I miss that beautiful temple, or was it actually what I was looking at earlier? How can I be sure that I’ll be able to find the rest of the buildings I want to see at the site?

In the apps that we provide, we have put in a lot of effort to ensure that you don’t miss a thing when you visit the sites. In order to do so, we have provided two different map options – one with an overview of the entire museum you are visiting, and one that shows the layout of the building that you are looking for. Both maps are GPS powered, so it will always mark your position accordingly to the building in question.

In addition to the maps, we also provide one or more pictures of the buildings that are described in the apps. The pictures show exactly what to look for while exploring the museum site. And since the app also provides an audio guide to the excavation sites, then it is no problem using pictures, texts, maps and 3D models of the building while you are sightseeing.

How did we get the idea for the app?

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The idea for the app came to me when I visited Forum Romanum in Rome.

I was sitting in the shadows waiting for my friend to return, and I was watching the visitors at the Roman Forum. Everyone, including me, was carrying a book about Rome and a map given for free at the entrance, which had absolutely no information about the buildings at all. Furthermore, many of them brought printed papers from home which explained the use of the ancient buildings – some visitors had even paid the ridiculous high price for an audio guide that matched the free map from the entrance… Most importantly though, everyone was using their smartphones to take pictures, and then the idea hit me – Why not put all that stuff everybody was carrying around into the smartphones which everybody seemed to bring along anyway?

So the mission was clear, and the goal was set. We wanted to enrich people’s visit to the excavation site and give them simple access to as much reliable information as possible, and we wanted to do it at a cheap and affordable price… only thing that remained was how to do this.

Back home in Copenhagen, things were set in motion. The first prototype was a website which covered Forum Romanum and Ostia. However, in order to avoid getting extremely large phone bills for data transfer, you need to be offline when visiting the sites, so a web based solution didn’t really fly. We did, however, get a lot of valuable know-how from doing the site, so it wasn’t a complete waste.

The next step was the app, and Forum Romanum was first in line. It was available in the late summer of 2014. The first release was for Android devices, but soon after it was available on both Android and Apple devices. Today I am proud to say that we now cover 8 excavation sites, ancient cities and fortifications around the world, and more are already in the making, including the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Copenhagen Citadel. Coming up is also a brand new design of the user interface, making it even more simple to plan your visit to the site, use the audio guide and navigate the museum/site you are visiting.

Please check out the apps and let us know if you have any ideas or suggestions that might improve them.