Engaging teenagers using interactive technology in museums

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The Interactive Technologies Institute has recently conducted research on the preferences of teenagers when it comes to using visiting interactive technology in museums. The research was carried out in collaboration with the Natural History Museum of Funchal, and was led by Vanessa Cesário.

The research aimed to find out how museums can better engage with their younger audiences and found that technology was the key to attracting teenagers. For that reason, the team conducted participatory design sessions with 155 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 to understand what kind of experience they would like to have in a museum. The sessions revealed that while teenagers did not consider museums attractive, they were excited about the prospect of having interactive technology guide them through exhibitions.

Then, the feedback from the teenagers was categorized into two themes – game mechanics and narratives. Most participants preferred gamification experiences in museums, while a few preferred narrative-based experiences. The researchers also reached out to Cultural Management students, who will become the future curators of museums. They found that while they believed storytelling and narrative were the keys to attracting young people, teenagers preferred game-based experiences.

Games vs narratives

Afterwards, and based on this feedback, we developed two different prototypes – a location-based game and a narrative-based experience. Furthermore, the team studied the impact of these experiences on the engagement levels of teenagers and found that those who were motivated by competition preferred game-based approaches. In contrast, those who were intrigued by the plot preferred narrative-based approaches. To sum up, most teenagers preferred stories except for the most competitive ones, who engaged more with game-based methods.

In conclusion, the research conducted by the Interactive Technologies Institute highlights the importance of considering the preferences of teenagers when it comes to designing museum experiences. In fact, by incorporating technology, museums can create engaging and meaningful experiences that cater to the needs and desires of their younger audiences.


Cesário, V., & Nisi, V. (2022). Designing with teenagers: A teenage perspective on enhancing mobile museum experiences. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction33, 100454. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcci.2022.100454

Cesário, V., Olim, S., Nisi, V. (2020). A Natural History Museum Experience: Memories of Carvalhal’s Palace – Turning Point. In: Bosser, AG., Millard, D.E., Hargood, C. (eds) Interactive Storytelling. ICIDS 2020. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 12497. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-62516-0_31

Cesário, V., Petrelli, D., & Nisi, V. (2020). Teenage Visitor Experience: Classification of Behavioral Dynamics in Museums. Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1–13. Presented at the Honolulu, HI, USA. https://doi.org/10.1145/3313831.3376334

Cesário, V., Trindade, R., Olim, S., Nisi, V. (2019). Memories of Carvalhal’s Palace: Haunted Encounters, a Museum Experience to Engage Teenagers. In: Lamas, D., Loizides, F., Nacke, L., Petrie, H., Winckler, M., Zaphiris, P. (eds) Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2019. INTERACT 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 11749. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-29390-1_36

Nisi, V., Cesario, V., Nunes, N. (2019). Augmented Reality Museum’s Gaming for Digital Natives: Haunted Encounters in the Carvalhal’s Palace. In: van der Spek, E., Göbel, S., Do, EL., Clua, E., Baalsrud Hauge, J. (eds) Entertainment Computing and Serious Games. ICEC-JCSG 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 11863. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-34644-7_3

Cesário, V. (2019). Guidelines for Combining Storytelling and Gamification: Which Features Would Teenagers Desire to Have a More Enjoyable Museum Experience? Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1–6. Presented at the Glasgow, Scotland Uk. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290607.3308462