The Emerald Necklace Conservancy has just completed work on its mobile tour guide of the Emerald Necklace parks, something that was rolled out as a pilot last summer as part of the Conservancy’s 20th anniversary celebration.
Evan Bradley, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Conservancy, has been working on the tour guide, which he describes as “the biggest thing I’ve done so far” for the organization.
The mobile tour guide can be downloaded at www.emeraldnecklace.tours (Bradley stressed the importance of including the “www”), and offers users a map of the Emerald Necklace parks with specific points of interest that can be clicked on for more information. Such points of interest include the Kelleher Rose Garden, The Duck House, and John Hancock’s stairs, among many others. The guide also offers information about upcoming guided tours led by docents from the Conservancy. Bradley said that for those who want a more personal guided tour, there are a few coming up this month on October 20, and 26. All begin at 11:00am at the Shattuck Visitor Center, 125 Fenway.
The guide was created in partnership with a company called Cuseum, which provides similar guides and services to museums and other institutions.
“What’s really exciting about the mobile tour guide is that the Conservancy is able to offer visitors an interpretation of the Emerald Necklace everywhere and at all times,” Bradley said.
Users can select a certain park in the Emerald Necklace and be taken through using the map, and learn about different points of interest within each individual park.
Bradley said that for the specific points of interest, they chose “locations that people come across everyday and might not know about as well as locations that maybe are a bit more hidden but have their own unique history and deserve to be known as well.”
The Conservancy wanted to create something like this because these historic parks currently lack signage and wayfinding, and the organization wanted to promote the parks and give people an easy way to learn and navigate. He said that they are excited to work with partners on creating signage for the parks as well, but for right now the mobile tour guide is a step in the right direction.
Right now, “you can walk through the parks and miss interesting information and history,” Bradley said. “This is something we certainly hope to change and influence in the future.”
Additionally, Bradley said the mobile tour guide allows the Conservancy to highlight its work in the parks and provide updates on projects that will be coming to the parks in the future. For example, users will be able to learn about restoration work at Willow Pond Meadow, and get updates on Phase Two of the Muddy River Restoration and the work going on in Charlesgate Park. “It’s a great tool to help people,” Bradley said, and can even be used for fun events like a scavenger hunt.
Bradley called the guide “a living document,” and though it is much more fully fleshed out than it was last fall for the Fog x Flo exhibition, he welcomes suggestions, comments, and questions from the public to make it even better. “There’s so much room to grow—as many options as there are acres in the Necklace,” he said. “I’m excited to see how this thrives and grows a bit more.”
Bradley said that Cuseum has been a “great partner” on this project. Brendan Ciecko, CEO & Founder of Cuseum, said that the company “helps museums, cultural attractions, and nonprofits drive visitor, member, and patron engagement through the power of technology. Our software platform is used by some of the largest and most visited cultural attractions in the world and makes it easier for them to publish mobile apps, generate digital membership cards, and leverage data insights.”
Cuseum has partnered with institutions like the ICA Boston, Yale Art University, and North Carolina Museum of Art, just to name a few.
“It is a great privilege to work with the Emerald Necklace on providing a new tool to help guide and inspire visitors of this world-class network of parks and public spaces,” Ciecko said. “We’re thrilled that this collaboration will continue to aid in driving deeper engagement, connection, and accessibility for all who come to enjoy one of Boston’s greatest natural treasures.”