Mobile Apps for Museums
November 15, 2010 5:42 AM   Subscribe

What are some examples of exemplary use of mobile (applications, mobile sites, sms, cameraphones, phone numbers on exhibit items) in or about museums? Basically, what arts organizations and museums are using the fact that their audience (in or even beyond the museum) in a way that enhances the effect (educational, entertainment, engagement) of the museum, and how do they do it?
posted by artlung to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe also expand your search a bit to places like zoos?
posted by Blake at 5:57 AM on November 15, 2010

The New York Times had a story on iOS apps used in museums not too long ago. No personal experience with these apps, but maybe this writeup might help as a starting point?
posted by jroybal at 5:57 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Off the top of my head, one of the first times I heard about this sort of thing was back in 2007, for the Tate Britain's How We Are Now project:
Not quite "mobile apps for museums" per se (a bit before that time), but a project that sought to reach out to actual and potential audience groups by inviting them to submit their own artistic content via a third-party internet site, the best of which were shown in the gallery.
posted by hydatius at 6:01 AM on November 15, 2010

The American Museum of Natural History has been praised for its mobile app.
posted by neushoorn at 6:19 AM on November 15, 2010

Response by poster: jroybal that's a great story, showing promise and pitfalls. great find. Blake, I want to exhaust museums first, but if there's a zoo app you feel would apply to museum experiences, please do share it!

hydatius, Tate Trumps comes to mind for me when you mention the Tate. The main takeaway there is I like the engagement of that project - getting the community (local and world) involved.

neushoorn, that's a great trailer on the AMNH page! Great example of quickly teaching.
posted by artlung at 6:21 AM on November 15, 2010

For the potential of the iPhone, you might want to look at the University of Oslo's 'SitSim' Project:
Demo I
Demo II
They are currently trying it out in historic cityscapes rather than inside closed museums, but it's a fascinating look at where we might all be, both inside and out, in the years to come.
posted by hydatius at 6:29 AM on November 15, 2010

Total coincidence, but I was just at the AMNH yesterday, and tried their app. Caveats: I was using it on an iPad, even though it's sized for the iPhone. Also, I'm new to using such devices.

I thought it was super cool at first, but then we returned to the paper map.... I couldn't actually use the tailored directions it putatively gives you (from where you are currently standing to whatever exhibit you want to see). It's too small to give you the proper orientation... What does "turn right" mean when you're standing in the middle of a room with 4 exits? So I would just start walking in a random direction and wait for the blue dot representing me to catch up.
posted by kestrel251 at 7:17 AM on November 15, 2010

The Louvre has a great app.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:17 AM on November 15, 2010

The Children's Museum of Houston and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry just a got a huge IMLS grant to develop museum smart phone apps - so you might want to stay abreast of that project and see what comes of it.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:23 PM on November 15, 2010

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