Museum Mobile Apps.

For my two mobile apps, I decided to go to the Brooklyn Museum as well as MoMA, both of which I had never actually been to.

I went to the Brooklyn Museum first, since it’s further away. I had downloaded both apps before I went so I wouldn’t have to worry about it when I got there. When I arrived, I didn’t really see anything that advertised that the museum had a mobile app. I did, however, notice that the back of my “proof of admission” tag had a QR code on it. I decided to go up to the second floor first and see the “Raw/Cooked” exhibit first, since it looked interesting. I turned on my mobile app, but I was disappointed to find that most of the information I was given could have been found on their website. Since I have an iPhone, I could have just as easily accessed that. I moved into one of the permanent galleries to see if maybe I could make more sense of the app. when I was in amongst the permanent collection; no dice. I did, however, notice another QR code on the side of a display case. Since I’ve never used QR codes before and we’d been discussing them, I downloaded the free QR code reader app and scanned the code. It took me to a page that had a beautiful poem on it that related to the object on display.

Just out of curiosity, I scanned the code on the back of my admission tag. Up popped a welcome screen that told me to look out for other QR codes around the museum to access additional information, as well as play their Gallery Tag! game. I was intrigued by the game, but didn’t understand how to start playing as there was no direct way to get to the game from the tag. So I wandered around a bit more before stumbling on to a small exhibit that had a QR code on the wall that said “play our game”. I scanned it and was taken directly to the Gallery Tag! game, where the goal is to collect points by finding objects in the permanent collection that can be “tagged” with a given word (ex. lion, racy, dramatic, fruit, nude, earrings). I became thoroughly engrossed in the game and spent a good hour more than I expected to just playing the game. I did find that I wasn’t paying very much attention to the exhibits at large, but it was still a fun activity. I do think that some sort of sign should have been up in the lobby that allowed you to start playing the game immediately without having to stumble onto a QR code in a random exhibit. The actual app was a bit useless, as it had no extra information that couldn’t be found on the website and no information about the QR codes.

From there, I went to MoMA. Luckily, it was First Friday, so I got in for free. I’m kind of glad, as I’m not sure I’d have wanted to pay. The place was packed, but I set about trying to figure out what their app did. Mostly, it was for audio tours that could be listened to on your phone rather than on the audio wands that you can procure in the lobby. I found that I would have rather had the audio wand, since the app relies on an internet connection and their Wi-Fi was being finicky. I expected to have a mobile tour that was more along the lines of “highlights of the collection” or something similar. Instead, it was simply find the piece by floor (if it had an audio symbol) and listening to the curators talk about the piece. Interesting to be sure, but often the pieces I wanted to know about didn’t have an audio option. With all of the people that were there because it was free, I found myself not entirely enjoying my time.

Overall, these two museums had one thing in common about their apps, they weren’t anything special or unique. I understand that you want the activities to be available to everyone, but its a bit of a letdown when you open up the app and find that its no different than what you could find on the website or what you could get from the lobby. However, I LOVED the Gallery Tag! game. I would love to see something similar put into practice at more museums. You feel like a detective and, while you may skip over objects that don’t have something to tag, it still engages you in the exhibits.