Since I was limited on funds and time, I never actually got a chance to use one of the apps at a museum. I did, however, attend the Museums and Mobile Online Conference a few weeks ago. It was a very informative conference with many different companies talking about their ideas for apps in museums. The main event was about the New York Public library’s Biblion app. They explained the difficulties they had trying to make this app, but also they talked about the reason behind making the app. Deana Lee explained that they created the app to give everyone access to all of the documents from the 1940 World’s Fair which are the most requested stuff from the library. This gives anyone a chance to take a look at the pictures and documents from the Fair at any time. She also explained that they had to make the app relevant to people nowadays. Some of the things they did with the app was put in guided tours and they also provided context for collection items. This makes it extremely user friendly because anyone can look at a document and know its background story now. I actually used the app on their website since I don’t own an Ipad. I’m not very interested in the 1940 World’s Fair but after looking through the documents and pictures some things caught my eye and I went further and looked them up. The app doesn’t really engage the visitor in the library but instead it gives free access to all of the documents and photos. It is more of a reference app for people who want to learn more about the items.
I also downloaded the MoMA app on my droid, but didn’t get a chance to go to the museum. The app is very well made but I feel like its just packed full of their collection pieces with some guided tours of the different floors. They could have easily just gave people headphones and told them to plug it in at each piece to listen to some information. The app doesn’t really engage the visitor it just gives them a path to follow according to the tour. I also felt like I didn’t really even have to go to the museum because the app gave me a picture of all the collection pieces, some info about them, and some info on the artist. Its almost like you could replace the museum with this app. They should have made the app as an extension of the exhibits not the whole museum in an app.
All together I found that both of these apps were very well made, but they really didn’t give me a sense that I would be engaged in the museum experience. The Biblion app is great for researchers, students, and regular people who want access to documents and photos without having to go to the museum to look at them. It, however, does not engage the visitor. The MoMA app is great for people who can’t go to the museum or want some more information on a piece of art, but it also does not fully engage the visitor.