Pioneer Museum now offering cell-phone tour option

Published 10:55 pm Friday, February 24, 2012

The Pioneer Museum of Alabama is now offering an audio tour through OnCell tours.

Rachael Greve, museum director, said this cell phone based tour will allow visitors to guide themselves across the museum’s 40 acres of trails and folk life exhibition galleries as they listen to rich, didactic and dialogic information.

“Each of the 23 historic structures will become stops within the cell phone tour offering primary source-cited interpretive narratives,” Greve said. “Soon, macro-artifacts such as the steam locomotive will become much more personal once its unique story is shared. Users may record their own feedback at the end of the tour to be sent to the museum’s upcoming website.”

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Visitors may opt for this smart-technology upgrade for only 50 cents with their paid admission. Museum members receive free cell phone tour upgrades.

“Down the road, an additional smartphone tour will be added that will allow visitors to use their iphone or Droid phones to view demonstration videos, photo slideshows, website links and provide written captioning for hearing impaired patrons,” Greve said.

“People often think of ‘the pioneer era’ as a simple way of life and there is a truth to that ideology as there was an absence of such luxuries as indoor plumbing, electricity and air conditioning. However, pioneers and indigenous cultures laid the cornerstones for many of the technologies we utilize today.”

The Native American gallery features artifacts such as grinding stones. The Pioneer Kitchen showcases hand-cranked food mills. On the grounds, there’s a historic a grist/corn mill.

“So this cell phone tour will enable us to dynamically interpret a very rustic, settler heritage,” Greve said. “The end result will be a multi-sensory experience that takes the visitors throughout the centuries old evolving material culture of Alabama.”

Dr. Mac Holmes, museum board vice-chairman, said that, with the OnCell technology the possibilities are limitless.

“We can upload mp3 files of various sound effects so that visitors can hear the sounds and whistles and noises from an 1800s train depot,” he said. “We can even include oral histories of some of the area’s historic luminaries as recorded by their descendants.  I think it’s a brilliant vehicle to attract today’s young, tech-savvy audience.”

Visitors will also be able to hear the origins and history of the Museum, in its late founder’s own words.

“We are so fortunate to have in our archives, film documentaries featuring Mr. Curren Farmer,” Holmes said. “Our vision is to abstract some of the audio from those tapes for the cell phone tour introduction. That way, the Museum’s 40-year legacy lives on and through the voice of our greatest advocate and beloved cultural steward.”

The OnCell Tour Launches March 1.

For more information call the museum at (334) 566-3597 or email