In fall 2013, with essential support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, President Lincoln’s Cottage launched the Visitor Experience Re-Vision (VERV), a project to enhance and update its multimedia approach to interpreting Lincoln’s seasonal retreat. As a flexible, cost-effective, and integrated system that employs cutting-edge technology, VERV truly helps the house and its story come alive for visitors.
The centerpiece of VERV is an application that provides frontline interpreters the platform and tools they need to create a multi-sensory experience for visitors. Thanks to the introduction of resource-rich tablets installed with the VERV Application, interpreters can now curate tours of the cottage by tailoring the tour to the needs and interests of each group in real time. During tours, interpreters use the tablets to launch the app, whose array of features (such as crisp, high-quality visuals, audio recordings of untold stories, and a dramatic light presentation on wartime Washington) create an evocative, sensory experience for visitors.
The program accomplished a number of goals for the Cottage. VERV sought to re-imagine the technology platform of the tour in order to implement the original vision of a core visitor experience that could be adapted to different target audiences. Thanks to VERV’s flexibility, the tour has undergone a programmatic evolution. The application has enabled the Cottage to serve as a living breathing house where as one visitor stated “it feels as if we entered a room President Lincoln just left.” Second, PLC needed an efficient way of recording and exchanging ideas among staff. VERV accomplishes this by serving as a toolbox for interpreters who store notes for themselves and fellow interpreters, creating a base of shared knowledge. Thus, VERV functions as both a way to illustrate and customize Lincoln’s home for visitors, but also as an organizational tool, knowledge bank, and flexible platform for the Cottage’s staff. Lastly, VERV addresses long-term financial sustainability by replacing obsolete technology with high-tech, low-maintenance methods.
VERV’s adaptability transformed the Cottage’s ability to engage diverse visitors with the Lincoln story. By providing flexibility and asking visitors to become active participants in the meaning-making process, VERV creates a unique and memorable shared experience for visitors and staff.