Cdr Leon Steyn, Curator SA Naval Museum

What is a QR code? 

QR or a Quick Response code works in the same way as a barcode at a supermarket. It is a machine-scannable-image that can instantly be read using a Smartphone camera.  When the Smartphone scans the code, it translates the information into something that can be easily understood by humans.

 QR Codes and museums

Museum displays or exhibitions – by its very nature – only contain certain abstracts of information.  This information is mostly presented in a visual way to make it more attractive to the visitor, but conversely it is often short of more detailed information.  Museum displays or exhibitions are therefore often tantalising short of information, but this hopefully encourages visitors to dig a little deeper and to find out more about their favourite display item or topic.

Traditionally museum visitors depended on libraries or archives to find books or material on their favourite topic.  But today’s generation are more inclined and equipped to find quick information and do this in a seamless manner through the modern technology at their disposal –Smartphones are the important link to this.  Today nearly all visitors to the SA Naval Museum carry these devices that can seamlessly scan QR codes to open URLs and links to more information.

A new display at the SA Naval Museum entitled ‘Admiral Hallifax and the Lodestar accident:  eighty years ago presented the perfect opportunity to implement the first QR code.  There was just so much more to show and tell than the single museum display could ever offer.  Following historical research, an in-depth article was written about the topic and placed on the museum’s own website.  A QR code was generated, linked to the museum’s website URL printed and placed at the new exhibition.

With that, the link between physically visiting the museum in person – to see the pieces of wreckage from the Lodestar aircraft or Hallifax’s admiral’s cap – and the virtual world of information technology was made.

It is envisaged to expand the use of QR codes to other displays at the SA Naval Museum in time.

The SA Naval Museum QR Code that provides an instant link to the museum’s website URL ‘Into the Mist: Admiral Hallifax and the Lodestar accident:  eighty years ago’