Brendan Ciecko is ridding cultural attractions of the need for clunky audio guides and is bringing learning tools to the palm of museumgoers’ hands with the creation of his tech startup Cuseum.
Ciecko, an entrepreneur with a background in the music industry, has always had a passion for art. So when he realized he could combine his love for art and learning through experience to create a platform that can change the museum world, he jumped on the opportunity.
“I was working with a number of museums and was constantly hearing of the frustrations when it came to providing a certain level of experience to visitors on site,” Ciecko said.
When he heard one particular institution’s frustration with how frequently its audio guides broke, costing the museum even more money, Ciecko decided to dive even further into the museum’s goals, and began exploring the most efficient ways to achieve them.
Then, in Aug. 2014, he released Cuseum as the solution. The platform began providing museums and other cultural attractions with the digital tools that the institutions needed to engage on-site visitors in new, dynamic ways.
As visitors enter any one of the museums partnered with Cuseum, they can download the attraction’s personalized application to their phone. Then, users are instantly presented with a variety of tours that will guide them through the museum.
These tours, which can focus on any experience the museum chooses, range from highlighted tours to ones customized for special exhibits. Each tour is also interactive, as it detects the location of the user to provide a multimedia experience.
As a visitor approaches a piece of art, content about the piece in front of them pops up on his or her phone, bringing the work to life. This location component also allows users to share their favorite pieces on social media, or even comment on an interactive discussion board with other users.
As users digitally ‘like’ their favorite artworks or share pieces on Facebook, they are prompted to become a member at the museum, or even make a donation. This, Ciecko explained, is the goal of the software development he released just over a month ago.
Ciecko’s newest product is the digital membership card he has made available for museums in order to make the membership process easier and more convenient.
The tool helps museums fill memberships in a more efficient manner, as the entire process is completed digitally, popping up on users’ phones as they walk through the door. Even with museums that offer free admission, entrance passes immediately open electronically on the visitors’ phones, ridding any unnecessary paper waste and time spent on lines.
All of the products put forth by Ciecko can be customized to fit every institution that one could imagine.
“Our tool is used by some of the largest museums in North America as well as some of the smallest museums in North America” Ciecko said. “So being able to provide a high-quality resource to museums of every shape and size is something that we’re very passionate about.”
The growth of Ciecko’s multiple software developments is something he credits Boston with kick-starting. With Boston’s commitment to education and its many established cultural institutions, its community values line up perfectly with those of the Cuseum platform.
Ciecko pointed out that Boston has an environment that, beyond mutual passions with the software, has been a kind mentor throughout Cuseum’s development and launch.
The officials at the Paypal Start Tank, the organization that picked up the Cuseum software in its developing stages and supported its growth, are a testament to the Boston environment as a whole, Ciecko explained.
“Boston as a startup city, and a city that encourages and supports its entrepreneurs, has been unbelievable,” Ciecko said. “I credit a lot of our early laying of our foundation to the entrepreneurs and successful founders who have invested in our company and our vision, as well as supported us.”
Although Cuseum was created in Boston, and is used by the city’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Ciecko collaborates with museums all over the country to bring the interactive art experience to users everywhere.
Aside from the ICA, Cuseum can now be found many other world-class institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
Ciecko’s goal for the near future, after just releasing the new digital membership product, is to fine-tune the digital tools that he provides to museums, and to increase the number of museums in partnership with Cuseum.
“There is an ongoing evolution in the museum, cultural attractions, and nonprofit space where there is a move to become more digital and more closely connected to the visitor and the member,” Ciecko said. “Our goal as a company is to really build tools that address those core needs of the institutions that we work with and help them drive more success.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Cuseum