(Sm)art Galleries
Museum are using apps to enhance the visitor experience
Tech / 28 Feb 2013
Surges in museum attendance are typically incited by blockbuster exhibits—like Marina Abramovic’s performance at MoMA in 2010, the Met’s Alexander McQueen exhibition in 2011, and David Bowie’s record-breaking, yet-to-open retrospective at London’s V&A. Now, seeking to drum up interest in the absence of such high-profile happenings, more museums are developing apps to enhance visitors’ engagement with their permanent collections.
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ArtLens
: The Cleveland Museum of Art’s free iPad app, ArtLens, provides an enriched and personalized experience. Users can follow pre-programmed tours, or choose to forge their own paths through the galleries, curating selections in real-time as the app’s indoor navigation technology directs them from one work to the next. In an updated approach to QR technology, image recognition software unlocks additional video, audio, and visual content and interpretive context (only available on-site through the app) from artworks marked with an ArtLens icon. For visitors who don’t own an iPad, loaners can be rented for $5.
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Sound Uncovered
: Part science museum, part “learning laboratory,” San Francisco’s Exploratorium provides an interactive and creative space where visitors can learn through hands-on immersion. The museum’s latest app, Sound Uncovered, likewise relies on interactivity to stimulate users’ enthusiasm about the qualities, effects, and experience of sound. Through twelve activities, some of which relate to upcoming exhibits at the Exploratorium’s soon-to-open location, the app investigates subjects like auditory illusion, palindromes, and other “acoustic phenomena.” Like its predecessor, Color Uncovered, the app draws connections between sensory experience and abstract scientific concept, and in doing so contributes significantly to current cultural explorations of sound.
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Art Lab
: MoMA’s Art Lab provides budding Gen Z artists with the framework to learn about and experiment with key concepts in creative abstraction. Indeed, the app is a companion to MoMA’s ongoing Art Labs, a series of interactive, child-friendly spaces where families can experience the museum’s collection through imaginative play. The digital counterpart brings these activities home, allowing users to compose sound poems, make designs out of lines, create group drawings (a la Exquisite Corpse), or even to sketch freely on a blank canvas. Activities are supplemented with relevant context about prominent modern artists and movements, providing a historical grounding for kids’ artistic explorations.
©The Intelligence Group