There are condom machines in the toilets of the British Music Experience at the O2 in Greenwich. I’ve no idea why – perhaps they think their visitors will be overwhelmed with emotion after seeing Ziggy Stardust’s ‘Thin White Duke’ outfit, or Dave Hill’s “Superyob” guitar. But in actual fact, it’s gadget fanatics that are likely to be the ones excited, because the BME is one of the most gadget-filled museums in the UK.
Almost everything in the museum is interactive. Your ticket comes equipped with an RFID tag that you wave in front of exhibits that interest you. These are logged in a central database, and after your visit you can go to the BME website and view all the exhibits that you looked at online.
There’s also the option to play along on real instruments with songs you know, or record a video of yourself dancing to one of several famous historical dances. That content will be stored and can also be viewed on the website later on, so you can share your embarrassment with people across the world. You get three free iTunes downloads too, to further investigate music that you don’t know very well.
Although it’s a great and well-connected experience, and anyone remotely interested in popular music since 1945 will find something interesting, there’s an ever so slight sense of a lack of use of the technology to its full effect. The tagging system is great, but it’d be nice to be able to explore extra content from home, rather than just reviewing the content you saw.
It’d also be great if you could do more with your recordings, getting the content out of the website. For copyright reasons, it’s impossible to do anything but stream the recording you make in the ‘Gibson Studio’ section. The British Music experience is technologically ahead of any other museum in London, but it’s still got unrealised potential.