Is that a museum in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Want to go to space, find the directions to the closest Dennys, watch a video of kittens playing foozball, or photoshop your Grandma? There’s an app for that.

We’ve been hearing it since the iPhone first debuted: Apple is making it easier for us to communicate, share information and even learn all with one device. The iPad is no exception as the applications are educational, entertaining, informative and fun. You can hand your phone to a 3 year old and help them learn their ABCs, make a To-Do and organize notes for your Economics class and read eBooks. It’s not hard to begin to fill page after page on your device as downloading new applications is incredibly easy. There are many free apps to try that are lite versions and perform nearly exactly as their paid counterparts. And we now have other smartphones by Blackberry, Samsung, Motorola and with the release of the Android system, Apple is getting some stiff competition

Being a museum geek, I am constantly learning the importance of the smart phone in the museum world. We produced a podcast for the museum last year, but have not had the technical capabilities to do so this year. I’ve been thinking of different ways we could use smart phones as a way to engage our visitors and excite them. Our history is so relevant to today and I believe that being creative and using smart phones in museums can help connect the past and the future.

Part of this smart phone revolution comes with the age of Twitter and social media. We ran a promotion where visitors can “check-in” to the museum using Foursquare and they would get a 10% discount in the museum gift shop. Many places are offering rewards to their Mayor and those would would be competing to be Mayor. It is truly amazing how different it is to exist on the Internet now than it did even 5 years ago. Then, a website as a marketing tool was cutting edge and while some small businesses still haven’t tapped into Internet marketing (sad, but true) there are so many organizations who are a mainstay on the World Wide Web.

Picture courtesy of Gizmodo

 

But history museums are not the only institutions that can benefit from this technology. The Museum of Modern Art has been a driving force in the Museum 2.0 experience. With 268,648 followers on Twitter, they are leading the way in engaging visitors and exciting potential visitors. With the release of their iPhone app, the Museum of Modern Art achieved greatness. A quick download on AT&T’s 3G network, the MoMA application for iPhone brings the museum’s collection and galleries to your fingertips.
A nice user interface provides 5 main options: Calendar, Tours, Art, Info and More. The Calendar tab allows for access to Events at the MoMA including what is going on that day, Programs, Film Schedule, Film Exhibitions and Exhibition schedules. It also puts that day’s hours of operation in an easy to read place. For example: Today, Saturday August 21, the hours were 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. The Tours tab brings guided audio tours to you easily.
I browsed by floor and selected Floor 5 – Painting and Sculpture. All floor are easily laid out and upon choosing Floor 5, was presented with galleries containing works by Vincent Van Gough, Diego Rivera, and Georges-Pierre Seurrat, to name only a few. In Gallery One, Van Gogh’s Portrait of Jouseph Roulin is featured as the first choice. Upon choosing that painting, you can listen to audio about the work. It opens with a quote from Van Gogh himself and includes narration that examines not only the work, but Van Gogh’s life. It brings the artwork from MoMA to anyone in the world for free.
On the Art and Artists tab, search for works of art by artist name or title. I searched for Claude Monet and found his Waterlilies with detailed information about the piece. Searching for Claude Monet even brings up the art term “impressionism” the school of art to which he helped perfect. Also on the Art and Artists tab, you can search through the database of art terms individually.
Info is just as it suggests. You can find the hours of operation, ticket prices, directions, etc. Parking information seems incredibly helpful as well as the information to visit the museum via subway, bus, car, airport, etc. MoMA has made everything quick and simple to access. More gives you links to MoMA on Twitter, Youtube, iTunes U and the podcasts page. Through the MoMA app, you can even listen to your own music while exploring the museum through your device.
The clarity of the pictures is astounding and the color scheme of the user interface is inviting. I have an iPhone 3 and it was very nice, but I would assume that it is even better on an iPhone 4 and iPad. You can even view the app in portrait or landscape. I was very pleased with this download and recommend it to all art lovers. Having not yet visited the Museum of Modern Art, it makes me very excited to visit.
The MoMA isn’t the only art museum with an application. The Louvre has released an app as well. It is a very large download and you must be on a Wireless network as it is too large for 3G. I haven’t tried it out yet, but I was so excited about the MoMA app that I just had to share. It’s virtually impossible to get lost in the museum as well. The app provides floor plans, restaurant information, etc. Don’t think that this is something that you can just use when you’re at home and wanting to look at the MoMA’s collection. Use the app while in the museum and add to your experience.
The Smithsonian is getting into the smart phone game as well with a new Natural History museum application as well. I’ll be discussing that at a later time. For now, download and enjoy the Museum of Modern Art app and let me know what you think!
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One thought on “Is that a museum in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

  1. >This is really interesting. I wonder if this technology could eventually free up more space in museums for art and less for big repeating signs, info spaces, etc. Maybe the two don't necessarily correlate, but I do wonder. Not everyone has a phone capable of doing this, but probably at some point everyone will and it will be cool to see how that changes things.

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