100 days

Museum Stats | Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Today marks the 100th day since the Pen started being distributed to visitors. Its been a wild ride and the latest figures are far beyond our estimations.

As of today, Pens have been handed out to 40,846 visitors which represents about 93% of all eligible visitors so far. We’re not currently distributing Pens on Saturday nights, nor to education groups, so they’re excluded from the count.

When we were thinking about the Pen and its integration into the museum, ubiquity was a critical concern. We knew that making it an ‘addon’ or ‘optional’ wasn’t going to achieve the behavior change that we desired, so continuing to make the on-boarding process easier for visitors and staff has been very important.

All of that would be for nought, if those Pens weren’t being used. Those Pens have collected 889,156 objects – averaging nearly 22 per Pen. That’s really surprised us! With a median of 11 we are still working on new methods in the galleries to help visitors collect more with their Pens, and in some cases, get started.

We’ve been equally excited that visitors have chosen to save 35,138 of their own creations from the wallpaper room, 3D designs, and Sketchbot portraits.

We’ve seen dwell times on the campus – from the times visitors take the Pen to when they return on exit – balloon out to a current average of 102 minutes, slightly less on weekends.

Another surprise has been the ‘most collected object’. It is the Noah’s Ark cut paper from 1982, an object that is on display towards the back of Making Design on the 2nd floor – certainly not the first object a visitor encounters. We probably shouldn’t be very surprised though, as it does also show up frequently as a visitor favorite on Instagram.

If you’d like to see what else is popular then hop over to our newly public ‘basic statistics‘ page where the top six objects and other numbers update daily.

And as for the post-visit experience? Just over 25% of ticketed visitors check out their collections after their visit, and a third of them decide to create accounts to permanently store their collection.

Over the coming months we’ll be working on continuously improving the Pen experience in the galleries – and as next week’s new exhibitions open to the public, the museum will have changed over almost every gallery since December. A lot of those improvements are going to be, as we’ve already seen, not technical in nature, but about more human-to-human interaction and assistance.

The digital experience at Cooper Hewitt is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

3 thoughts on “100 days

  1. Susan Strasser

    I was one of the visitors who used the pen, but was sorely disappointed in the results when I got home and looked at the resulting website. I had been hoping not merely to *collect* some images of interesting objects, but to learn something more about them than appeared on the labels at the museum. You are missing an important opportunity by simply reproducing the museum labels.

    1. Seb Chan Post author

      That’s definitely the intention – and for most of Cooper Hewitt’s objects that are on display (not so much for loans at the moment), the records are longer and fuller than what fits on the label. The grid of images that you get when you first log in can be clicked on to reveal the museum’s records for those objects.

      For example, here’s an example record for a poster that is on display in the How Posters Work exhibition. Collecting it will give you quick access to that.

      Part of the ongoing challenge for all museums is getting all of their knowledge into public facing systems, then also tackling the issue of providing information that is actually of interest to visitors. Brooklyn Museum’s new Ask project is attempting to do the latter by having an App that provides the opportunity to ‘ask anything’ about objects on view – and I noticed that the Met is about to launch a similar thing for kids.

  2. Pingback: 5 months with the Pen: data, data, data | Cooper Hewitt Labs

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