The Metropolitan Museum of Art has partnered with Facebook as part of a new feature on the social media service, it was announced today. Called Facebook Place Tips, the new offering makes use of Bluetooth beacons developed by Facebook that, when put in a particular place, can ping users with location-specific information. In areas where beacons are not specifically installed, cellular and GPS data will be used to triangulate locations and offer suggestions at the top of the news feeds of mobile application users.
As a launch partner for Facebook Place Tips, the Met is the sole museum, and the only nonprofit, amid a cohort of seven popular New York businesses installing Bluetooth beacons for enhanced participation in the feature’s debut: Dominique Ansel Bakery, the Strand Book Store, a burger restaurant at Le Parker Meridien, Brooklyn Bowl, Pianos bar, the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, and Veselka. At the Met, two beacons will be installed: one in the Great Hall and another in the Uris Center for Education entrance on 81st Street.
“We believe that people walking in the door now will have more relevant information and will be able to see more of our content faster as a result of this,” Met chief digital officer Sree Sreenivasan told us by phone shortly after the announcement this afternoon. Though the museum does not have numerical visitor goals for the new Facebook partnership, and Sreenivasan stresses that no data is collected by the Bluetooth beacons, he hopes that Place Tips will help patrons “stay connected to us online.”
Sreenivasan, who says he has been introducing visitors to the feature in the museum’s Great Hall today, explained that the partnership with Facebook came together in “the last couple of weeks.”
“This was a project that was brought to us in a very short turnaround time for us,” he said, noting that Facebook approached the Met after an employee of the company attended a tour he had given.
“It’s fair to say that’s not the usual mix of people the Met is associated with,” Sreenivasan said of the launch group — he did not know if any other museums were approached or if other museums intend to participate — but believes the Met’s involvement is consistent with the museum’s mission: “My goal from day one has been to tell more stories at the Met and connect the physical and digital experience.” (Sreenivasan joined the museum in 2013 as its inaugural chief digital officer.)
In the museum landscape, the Met has been among the more ardent adopters of digital and social media technologies, with recent efforts including the development of an application for the iTunes store and the courting of Instagram eyeballs under the “#emptymet” program, which offers private tours to Instagram account holders with large followings. An August 2014 New York Times article highlighted some of these novel tactics, observing that the “push for accessibility can be seen in some seemingly un-Met-ish offerings from the museum of late.”
— Mostafa Heddaya (@mheddaya)