Museum Apps: National Museum of the American Indian and The Museum of Jewish Heritage

Kelsey and I decided to venture into the city Saturday to try out two mobile apps: one at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and one through the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

The app at NMAI was for the exhibit “Infinity of Nations” which exhibited a variety of cultural artifacts from Indians across the Americas. Right off the bat I was sad the app was for Iphone only, luckily my partner in crime Kelsey had one! The app gave an intro to the exhibit and then had title divisions that matched those in the exhibit, by geographic area. Not every artifact was included on the app, but some of the larger or more unique artifacts were highlighted. Usually the voice on the app gave more detail and back story than the minimal object text. It was nice to be able to look at the object and not have to read at the same time. I thought this would be very useful for those with visual disabilities as sometimes the artifacts were described in detail. I also noticed on the way through the exhibit, elements of the app were set up at computer stations along with other computer interactives. Overall my experience in a nut shell= this app was a slightly more involved audio tour.

The second app we chose to use was “Lazarus” from the Museum of Jewish Heritage. This is an outside-museum app for a walking tour of important sites of Jewish heritage across Manhattan. Some of which include the first American Temple, Mill St. Synagogue (which we found was destroyed in a fire over 100 years ago), the Statue of Liberty and the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society. We planned to visit three of the sites, since travelling across the city on a student budget is a little hard. We found the Synagogue on the map and wandered around the Financial district trying to find it, only to realize it was destroyed once we listened to that section on the app. We walked back down to the battery to find the Aid Society, and again to no avail we couldn’t locate it. But still we listened to the app. Finally we rode by the Statue of Liberty, where we had a duh moment. The poem on the statue is the name sake of the app…Emma Lazarus, who is associated with many of the sites on the app. I really liked this app because it took your experience beyond the museum. Unfortunately it didn’t have the best map, or maybe the 3g was acting up but the map was slow to load and couldn’t zoom in very close. I also think Ellis Island should have been included on the app (Kelsey and I went there that day too), it fit in perfectly with the theme.

Overall it was a good experience and maybe I am a little less turned off by mobile apps.

Here are some pictures from the NMAI:

Interesting…not Cowboys and Indians but an Indian Cowboy!

There was a video interactive for this object that showed the process of making it

Talk about perpetuating stereotypes, this was the first thing you would see when you walked into this education/discovery center place