Ask Mona and the Centre Pompidou were selected to be speakers at MuseumNext Digital Summit 2022, among other international cultural organizations. We introduced to the participants the project that we built together : one accessible tool designed to be the voice of the institution. It includes several services for the public: practical information by answering the public’s questions and transmission by delivering interactive narratives on nearly 150 artworks from the museum’s collection. Here are some of the key highlights of the presentation made by Alix Deltour (Director of customer experience at Ask Mona) and Augustin Pagenot (Deputy head of education at Centre Pompidou).
The beginning of the project. Why working together to build a chatbot ?
The Centre Pompidou wanted to provide visitors and mainly younger demographic, not as much interested in following a traditional visit with a tour guide, with a new way to experiment the museum and the artworks.
The Centre Pompidou wanted to create a tool that can accompany the visitor and share information with them in a rather light but meaningful manner. They wanted to build a seamless, easy to use experience for the public that can promote content about more than 110 artworks in the collection and retain the attention through a narrative. At the core of its projects were two different departments whose goals are to communicate better and more about all the missions of the Centre Pompidou.
The Centre Pompidou decided to work with Ask Mona because they wanted to work with a purely innovative force and create something that wasn’t another tool but rather something interactive with the visitor but also with all the content the Centre Pompidou provides. This new tool had to work as a “hub” with everything they have on the website and all the content they provide (web series, podcast, online labels…).
The 3 main challenges we face to build this project
Conceptualize the use cases. Who is the audience?
The Centre Pompidou and Ask Mona wanted to work on something innovative and promote new uses for the audience. Augustin Pagenot explains that the main challenge was to think beyond what they thought the people needed.
Finding the right level of language for an international museum. Who speaks to the audience?
“Our main challenge was to figure out how can one device be the voice of a national museum. We spent a lot of time working on finding the right way to address the audience.”
The first challenge was about the avatar that personifies the chatbot : we had to find the right persona, the right pronoun. Ask Mona accompanied the Centre Pompidou during several meetings to choose between different propositions of avatar. It was an interesting challenge for the museum’s team.
We also worked on the editorial line of the chatbot to try to find what kind of vocabulary it would use, how it was going to interact with the public… We spent time trying to find the right words and the right way.
The education department can be sometimes tempted to provide as much information as they can, and they had to find the tricky relationship within informing and informing properly in a simple manner. The chatbot is a new layer that is interacting with other layers of mediation (audio form, video, text based). It is absolutely important to make sure that one tool is not shadowing another one.
Content, information and synchronization with the CMS. How to capitalize on an existing digital ecosystem?
“First, we didn’t want this chatbot to be a standalone project that will be useful for some months and then lose its purpose.”
This hub is a new way to lead on new projects and future projects for the Centre Pompidou. Therefore, we didn’t want to build a device with different phases of production but a tool that could be updated on a daily basis, always evolving in a seamless way for the public.
The CMS had to play a key work in it. So much effort is done to feed the CMS, so it was not possible to double the work. By connecting the chatbot with the CMS, we were able to make the chatbot a living tool that is updated daily. The chatbot was also a way to help navigate a broad and vast program of 1000-1500 events per year. To be able to do so, we created a proper AI algorithm that can interpret all the program so that the audience can ask questions about events, thematics…
We also wanted to provide meaningful content through the chatbot. A lot of work of editorializing has been done to make sure we have the right tone. For the practical question answering part, Ask Mona shares with the Centre Pompidou a grid of various questions. As Augustin Pagenot explains, it was a meaningful process to think. Not only about how I answer to this specific question, but how do I provide content within the realm of the museum in general.
The results of this collaboration
Since December 2021, the chatbot is available on the website on the page to prepare the visit. It is also available in the museum. We worked on a large signage strategy to inform the public about the chatbot, but also on a fun way to acknowledge the tool. We wanted to explain the interest in using the chatbot rather than focusing on how to use it.
Two key features and two key uses of the chatbot are the following :
- Providing the public with general information: what is the program, how to access the museum… This is more of a general service you can use outside the museum to prepare the visit. As Alix Deltour explains, the Natural Language Processing (AI) is programmed to answer visitors’ questions.
- A light guide : a tool that will on some occasion provide interactive ideas around artworks, try to guide our sights on the artwork. People can take pictures of artworks they are interested in and send them to the chatbot to start an interaction and have access to more content. The idea was to create tailored elements relating to the artworks and put them into that chat environment. Here, the AI is trained to recognize pictures sent by the user.
The chatbot has 17 000 users in 2 months and 30 000 pictures of artworks were sent to it. It is used by thousands of users a day.
Augustin Pagenot recalls that it was a fun project to lead and work with Ask Mona team, and wanted the result to be as fun and light for the user.
The next step for the chatbot is to be available in Spanish soon, as it is now available in French and English. But more than this, the Centre Pompidou wants the chatbot to be part of a toolbox, to think in the sense of how we can adapt this project or implement this project in the realm of the chatbot.
If you are interested to see the full video of our participation, click down below.