How History Museum on the Square Makes Learning Accessible

History Museum on the Square incorporates NaviLens for an improved and inclusive visitor experience.

By Lauren Flynn

Jun 2024

Photos by Katy St. ClairNaviLens provides an inclusive experience for the visually impaired by allowing guests to scan QR codes for information. Purchase Photo

In recent months, History Museum on the Square (154 Park Central Square, Springfield; 417-831-1976) has been using a new program that will enhance the guest experience and provide more accessibility to the museum’s exhibits.

The museum has an interactive, engaging environment where people can learn about Springfield, Missouri and its history. Even though it contains many exhibits and extensive information, staff members realized that these features were not easily reachable for everyone. “Our goal is to be more accessible so that everybody can learn our stories,” says the museum’s business manager, Charlotte McCoy. They decided to make improvements by adding NaviLens as a new feature.

NaviLens is an app that is designed to help those who are visually impaired and those who do not have English as their first language. Without it, some people struggle to see the panels and read the information they display. Through the app, people can scan a series of QR codes on the museum’s first floor that will tell them about various exhibits and provide wayfinding guides. It gives the option to read the marker’s information out loud and has 33 different language settings including sign language. 

Only nine markers are currently available, but the museum is planning to expand NaviLens access. “We’ve got mostly safety ones, such as the exit, staircase, restrooms and elevator, but then we have the marker in front of the Native American gallery, which talks about that actual gallery,” says McCoy. She also plans to have signage on the glass window located in front of the museum, so people using NaviLens can scan it and learn about the museum. 

McCoy says that they decided to incorporate NaviLens after the Missouri Federation of the Blind—Springfield Chapter came for a tour. McCoy says that she is a visual learner and would rather watch videos and experience the interactives than read each panel. “This might not be as easy for a visually impaired person. Therefore, the museum is excited to implement a tool that will help,” she says. They were able to learn more about the wayfinding NaviLens app from a museum staff member who took a trip to Europe and used the app in English.

History Museum on the Square’s facts and features provide amazing opportunities for people to learn more about Springfield. With NaviLens, the history will be able to reach more people. “We want to make sure that we’re sharing the stories with everyone,” McCoy says.