Chris Alexander has developed a number of iterations of iPod and iPhone/iPod Touch tours for the San Jose Museum of Art. He writes:
We’ve been checking out iPods for free at the San Jose Museum of Art for about 4 years now. First Video iPods and now iPod Touch units. We’ve always operated under the idea that these were a value added benefit to admission. Pay your $8 and this would be one of the additional features that you could utilize during your visit. All we ask for is a driver’s license and you can check out two. This has worked our very well and we did not have any theft doing this. We recently, because of staff cutbacks in the galleries, stopped doing it this way. We experimented… with leaving iPods on shelves in the gallery for visitors to pick up and walk around with… [W]ithin two days one of them went missing. We then tethered them to the shelf with more success.
Surprisingly the units have held up really well! We have specially designed Contour cases covering them which blocks out the home button to prevent visitors from accessing the other apps on the device.
It’s particularly interesting to look at the SJMA mobile browser-based tour on the iPhone alongside Ted Forbes’s solution for the Dallas Museum of Art. Note the podcasts and visitor survey also accessible through the tour interface.
Full details of the project are available on Chris’s blog, Chris-Alexander.com.