Meet MIA — your AI tour guide

PalaisPopulaire by
Deutsche Bank helps visitors enjoy art interactively
by Brittany King
7-minute read
PalaisPopulaire building

The art world is seeing a shift in what new museums can do to attract visitors.

With each generation becoming more tech-savvy than the last, how does a 21st century museum such as PalaisPopulaire stay relevant today? By adapting to the environment around it and embracing the digital landscape, right alongside its audience.

With the help of IBM, visitors can explore the facility at their own pace using Museum Intelligent Assistant (MIA), the IBM Watson® Assistant technology within PalaisPopulaire’s mobile app. MIA allows museum-goers to ask a wide range of questions about the exhibit’s offerings interactively.

“Working with AI is becoming more and more a part of our lives,” says Sara Bernshausen, Deputy Director of PalaisPopulaire. “I recommend throwing yourself into the adventure with IBM and looking at how it can enrich your art experience.”

Hand holding a smart phone with the PalaisPopulaire app open

Real-time answers to

2,000+

questions

PalaisPopulaire is the

first

in Europe to use AI for art education

Establishing MIA was the right thing at the right time. MIA is always accessible and available to visitors in real time.
Sara Bernshausen
Deputy Director, PalaisPopulaire by Deutsche Bank
Woman holding a smart phone pointed at a piece of art at PalaisPopulaire
MIA has been successful because everybody has learned a lot — not only our visitors, but we ourselves have learned so much about AI.
Sara Bernshausen
Deputy Director, PalaisPopulaire by Deutsche Bank
Modern-day digital demands
MIA has been successful because everybody has learned a lot — not only our visitors, but we ourselves have learned so much about AI.
Sara Bernshausen
Deputy Director, PalaisPopulaire by Deutsche Bank

Through the years, the art world has grappled with drastic declines in demand from its audiences. It’s no surprise, as people are spending more of their time online, on screens and in virtual environments.

Deutsche Bank, having already worked with IBM at length on previous projects and aware of multiple AI implementations IBM had deployed at other art institutions, sought similar ways that its PalaisPopulaire museum could offer visitors a radically new experience. The museum opted to implement MIA, a digital assistant using Watson Assistant technology on IBM Cloud®.

IBM integrated MIA into the museum’s existing mobile app to provide background information on nine photographs within the “Time Present — Photography from the Deutsche Bank Collection” exhibition.

“We wanted to figure out a way to provide really good, high-level content to our visitors in a digital way, using AI,” explains Bernshausen. “We wanted to find a way to give our audience more freedoms in asking questions and learning about the pieces of work displayed.”

No better time than the present

In contrast to an audio guide, MIA does not use prepared audio clips but instead relies on Watson Assistant technology to answer questions by accessing knowledge stored in an IBM® Cloudant® database. PalaisPopulaire managed to become the first institution in Europe to use AI for art education, and it greatly improved the visitor experience.

The virtual assistant comes prepared to answer over 2,000 questions through the visitor’s smartphone. These questions can range from complex issues such as an artist’s motivations to more basic queries such as the time and place a work was created.

“MIA has been well received by our visitors and the staff,” explains Bernshausen.

Though MIA’s implementation took place before the COVID-19 pandemic, its arrival couldn’t have come at a better time. When the virus hit, PalaisPopulaire’s new AI technology allowed visitors to feel comfortable and engaged when visiting its exhibits, getting the benefits of a guided tour while remaining safely distant from others once the museum was allowed to open up again.

Man holding up a smart phone pointed at a piece of art at PalaisPopulaire
We see a lot of curious visitors trying to test MIA’s capabilities, to see how clever it is, and the younger visitors are very keen to the experience.
Sara Bernshausen
Deputy Director, PalaisPopulaire by Deutsche Bank
We see a lot of curious visitors trying to test MIA’s capabilities, to see how clever it is, and the younger visitors are very keen to the experience.
Sara Bernshausen
Deputy Director, PalaisPopulaire by Deutsche Bank
AI is here to stay

Having an innovative tool such as MIA allows PalaisPopulaire to continuously adapt with the times and offer a safe environment for education. For now, MIA is only trained to provide background information on nine photographs within the “Time Present” exhibition, but Bernshausen would like to make more content accessible once the exhibit concludes its 10-month run.

The efforts put into creating MIA paid off. The technology has received such a positive reception from its users that PalaisPopulaire can see using Watson Assistant technology for longer exhibitions in the future.

“MIA has been successful because everybody has learned a lot — not only our visitors, but we ourselves have learned so much about AI, and it’s truly fascinating,” says Bernshausen. “I imagine the next step in our relationship could be looking into additional tools Watson is offering and keeping the work we developed the last two years accessible.”

PalaisPopulaire logo
About PalaisPopulaire by Deutsche Bank

In September 2018, Deutsche Bank opened a nearly 10,000 square foot gallery in Berlin, Germany, called PalaisPopulaireExternal Link. Once a palace built for Prussian royalty, the facility is now a forum for people who want to experience art, culture and sports. PalaisPopulaire offers a wide-ranging program that brings together contemporary culture and education from the Deutsche Bank Collection, international cooperation partners and private collections.

IBM Solution components
PalaisPopulaire logo
About PalaisPopulaire by Deutsche Bank

In September 2018, Deutsche Bank opened a nearly 10,000 square foot gallery in Berlin, Germany, called PalaisPopulaireExternal Link. Once a palace built for Prussian royalty, the facility is now a forum for people who want to experience art, culture and sports. PalaisPopulaire offers a wide-ranging program that brings together contemporary culture and education from the Deutsche Bank Collection, international cooperation partners and private collections.

IBM Solution components