Case Study: Explorer App

Creating a tour guide with superpowers.

PROJECT DATE: 2014-2016

When the American Museum of Natural History launched its groundbreaking mobile app, Explorer, back in 2010, it used a cutting-edge indoor GPS system, helping visitors find their way through the exhibitions and learn about the displays with relative ease. And then came the update...


Your very own expert tour guide in your pocket.

As director of design, I helped relaunch the Museum's flagship app in 2015, taking advantage of an advanced location-aware system powered by Bluetooth beacons. The new approach to wayfinding allowed for incredibly precise turn-by-turn directions that knows exactly which dinosaur, diamond, or diorama you're standing in front of. This was a total game-changer in a massive institution with 45 halls spanning four city blocks.

The following year, I launched another multi-dimensional update, including an augmented reality adventure to become a bear with superpowers, an exhibition-based game to build the tree of life, and new in-app, skip-the-line ticketing.


Learn to play... and play to learn.

I worked alongside the Museum's digital media team, exhibition department, and two app production firms, Door3 and Local Projects, to re-launch Explorer with entirely new visual presentations, vivid color, hundreds of striking new photographs, and re-envisioned content. 

Over the span of two new major updates to the app, I refined the interface from the ground up, designed a fresh experience for the in-person visit, and helped build new interactive, augmented reality kiosks placed in the exhibition halls.

Explorer fuels the spirit of discovery at the heart of all exploration in ways that are thoroughly in step with our times.
— ELLEN FUTTER, American Museum of Natural History

Think like an Explorer.

Concurrent to the app development projects, I also produced a multi-platform marketing campaign for the new app to encourage Museum visitors to download and find their way with Explorer. Centered around a series of everyday questions, the creative assets feature the app "in the wild" of the exhibition halls, where the content of Explorer truly comes to life.