Today we are excited to announce the Online Gallery Guide for our Historic Textiles Gallery. Along with labels and traditional gallery guides in the exhibit, this online guide provides the visitor another route into the Charleston Museum’s amazing textile collection. With the growing adoption of smart phones and tablets we hope that this guide provides an alternative and easy-to-use view of our current textile exhibits: Botanical Quilts, “We Have Just Begun to Fight!”, Coat Check, and Fashion Plates.
Or aim your desktop, laptop, tablet or phone browser to
Thoughts on building the online gallery guide
Rather than build a native app for the iOS (iPhone / iPad) or Android platform we chose to build the guide as a mobile site or webapp. Built with jQuery Mobile, a "touch-optimized web framework for smartphones & tablets," the guide looks and acts in many ways as a native smart phone / tablet application, but, unlike an app, the mobile site is device independent. Focusing on a responsive layout allows us to offer an optimised experience on whatever device the visitor uses (iPhone, iPad, Android tablet, Android phone, laptop, even desktop once you return home) This also allows us to quickly update the content and have it change immediately across all platforms, vs resubmission of multiple apps to multiple app stores.
In order to access the guide inside the Textile Gallery visitors are asked to scan a QR code (quick response code) or visit the url of the gallery guide on their mobile device.
We look forward to the continued growth of this guide with additional features, information and media.
Delivers the gallery exhibit information across multiple platforms from desktop to smartphone. Clean, ordered, and easy to navigate. After initial load (see below) app is snappy and fluid. Allows quick changes, updates and additions to information.
Problems / Quirks
The gallery guide is one large html document which is downloaded all at once. Depending on your cellular data speed this can some time. While all photos were kept to a minimal file size there are around 100 different objects on display so the visitor must be patient at initial download. We do not currently offer Wifi access which would help this initial load problem. While jQuery mobile is awesome it is still young and has some quirks. Namely, we had to remove the animated slide feature (which makes the experience much smoother and feel more like a native app) due to a strange flicker / jump bug on android devices. Since our goal was accessibility to multiple devices some aesthetics had to be sacrificed.
In the future features for sharing, liking, and commenting on individual objects should be added. We tried to incorporate these features for the first version of this guide, but ran into some still unresolved technical difficulties.
Does it make sense to offer this gallery guide? While low cost it does take time to properly code and setup. The textile gallery is constantly rotating collections and the information will have to be updated consistently.
Please let us know what you think of the mobile site in the comments section below.
Graphic Designer / Exhibit Designer / Photographer
The Charleston Museum