Aligning heritage and culture with tourism; the creation of an integrated audio guide experience in Alkmaar.

René Mijs, Nederland

The Dutch city of Alkmaar is internationally famous for its history in trading cheese. Cheese trading can be traced back to the year 1356 when the first cheese scale was placed. Since then the cheese market was an regularly held upto today. During spring and summer the cheese market is still held on Friday mornings. This event is visited by over 5,000-10,000 visitors from a wide variety of countries each week. As such, the cheese market has become a major international event with considerable economic impact for the city and its surroundings.

To further educate and engage its visitors to the historic city of Alkmaar, the Cheese Carrier’s Guild (active since1593) has initiated an heritage experience for visitors of the cheese market, in several languages, throughout the year. For this it has started a unique project alligning and integrating audio guide initiatives in local museums and other organisations in heritage, culture and tourism.

As from march 2014 visitors of the Alkmaar cheese market will be offered  downloadable  audio guides throughout the city (available in multiple languages) telling exciting stories about historic sites and events in and around the cheese market. Stories that can be shared with friends and family via social media. These inside and outside audioguide experiences will be connected and extended into participating museums and heritage sites offering visitors a seamless experience throughout the city. Each participating organisation controls its own indoor and/or outdoor tour experiences and helps promote the overall city guide created.  The audioguides created can also be used by participating organisations in individual or joint marketing campaigns via mobile devices and social media. Businesses are able to support this project via sponsoring or advertising of existing tours.

In February 2014, the first phase of this initiative will be launched. In a second phase existing and new organisations will be able to connect additional tours in additional languages. Four other cities with cheese markets are also considering joining the project. During the presentation the Cheese Carrier’s Guild and/or the participation ‘Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar’ will present its first experiences in creating this integrated audio guide for the city of Alkmaar. It will present:

  • How the initiative was started.
  • How participating organisations cooperate.
  • Which difficulties and limitations were encountered in realizing the cooperation and creation of the audio guides.
  • What benefits are expected from the cooperation for visitors and participating organizations.
  • What further plans are in maintaining and extending the visitor experience created

Why is the presentation important for the visitors of MWF?

  • This subject should be relevant for all participants of MWF as all museums are part of a local community. This setup describes a way how museums can successfully and sustainably cooperate with other organizations in heritage, culture and tourism.
  • The case described is exactly what the meeting is about: “Open Museums and Smartcities: Storytelling and Connected Culture.”

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