Friday, June 24, 2011

Museum Apps

From the desk of Kim Gough, Program Developer, Royal BC Museum

Recently I have been having fun delving into the world of museums and social media, with an eye to developing a Smart Phone app for the Royal BC Museum (stay tuned for more on that soon).

During my research I have come across some cool museum and culture apps that I wanted to share with you. Most of the apps I have seen are for Apple, the few that are for Android I will list with an (A).

American Museum of Natural History – Explorer
This is a site-specific way-finding app. You can look at it from home and get information about a lot of their key objects, but the coolest thing would be to use it onsite and get step by step directions. You’ll never have to ask “Where’s the bathroom?” again.

Victoria and Albert – Search the Collections (A)
Often when I am at a museum like the Victoria and Albert I am so consumed with the artifacts, that I never spend any time with the library or archives. This information rich app that takes their library collection and puts it on your Smart Phone. So now I know what I’ve been missing.

I can’t wait to go back to Tate and play a game of TRUMP. This app invites you to walk around the gallery and build your “deck” with art work that you think best fits different modes such as “battle”, “mood” or “collector”. Meet up with your friends and compare your decks to see if your Pollock trumps their Duchamp.

Joslyn Art Museum – SVNG Trek
This is another gaming app that uses the existing SVNG format to set visitors out on different missions through the museum. Kind of like a 2.0 scavenger hunt.

National Museum of the American Indian – Infinity of Nations
An app developed with children and families in mind. Buffy Saint Marie, who I remember fondly from Sesame Street, narrates this audio rich app that invites families to look closely at the artifacts and make discoveries.

Fredricksburg Battlefield - Fredricksburg Battle
Even outdoor Heritage Sites can have great apps. This one takes you onto a Civil War battlefield and offers GPS based tours, historian videos, audio accounts of soldiers, maps, photos and other archival documents that you don’t often get to see in outdoor sites.

Strawberry Banke Museum – Listen to the Landscape
A large living history site uses this app not only to help visitors navigate through the historic community, but also invites them to immerse themselves in the story through voices, sights and sounds from the past.

Some of the above apps make me want to travel to these places to check them out – one that is a deliberate “travel app” is the Android app Museums in NYC . Find out what’s coming up around the corner and get a glimpse of what is inside before you even go in the doors.

So these are some of the apps that I like, what about you? Have you used a museum/culture app? What did you like?


  1. Anonymous24 June, 2011

    So far I've only used the cell phone tours... but since I don't love audio tours in museums as a rule, an app seems ideal! Great idea, RBCM!

  2. June Slack24 June, 2011

    Thanks for the apps, Kim. I look forward to checking them out.
    I have two for you, both from the American Museum of Natural History.
    One is DINOSAURS and the other is COSMIC DISCOVERIES. They are both made up of hundreds of photographs. You just touch them, and they open up to show separate pictures and then, even, you can touch the pictures and get the detail of each and every one. A fantastic time waster!!!!
    Looking forward to seeing the RBCM app.


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