The Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy of Arts promotes not just the appreciation and understanding of art, but also its practice. Every year since 1768 the RA has held an annual Summer Exhibition, the largest open-submission art exhibition in the world. In addition, the gallery presents multiple major curated exhibitions each year. 

After a long period of distributing traditional rented audio-guide hardware, Smartify was asked to work with the RA to deliver an audio guide on visitors' own devices. Crucially the guide had to be easy-to-use and a paid-for experience. In addition, The RA asked Smartify to write and produce the guide.

The challenge: The challenge was to implement a new system for selling and distributing audio guides without the need for rented hardware. It was key that conversion rates between the number of visitors to those buying a guide stayed the same or increased while using a digital guide. In addition, staff and visitors would have to be supported in the transition - getting them used to the new approach.

Our Solution: The RA’s use of the Smartify guide is certainly a best practice case study in how to implement a Bring Your Own Device solution for exhibitions. Working together we made the guide transaction as smooth as possible with the following steps:

  • Integrating the guide purchase with online ticketing

  • Offering a payment point and QR code at the exhibition entrance to make walk-up transactions quick and easy

  • Clear signage with an audio guide desk (although much smaller than what you would need if maintaining hardware!)

In addition Smartify’s creative team worked with the RA curators to actually produce the guide itself. We worked in a collaborative, open way to draw out the themes and key stories of the exhibition in an exciting and contemporary way.

The results: The RA successfully transitioned away from expensive, outdated hardware that was hard to maintain and update; and to a far easier, flexible and cost-effective solution with Smartify. In addition, Smartify’s authentic approach to content creation delivered a guide that was engaging for visitors and received lots of positive feedback.

As ever, if you have any creative projects coming up this year or are looking to make the move away from hardware museum guides, do get in touch!

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