In this digital age, largemuseum maps and heavy guide booksbadly needed when visitingthe bigger institutions seem so passe. But how exactlydo you get around then? At the American Museum of Natural History in New York, you can now chart your own course with their AMNH Explorer (video preview) a brand new app that is part custom navigation system and part personal tour guide for the museum’s world-famous halls.
The app promises totake youfrom the edge of the universe to the age of the dinosaurs, providing turn-by-turn directions.When you urgentlyneed to find the bathroom, it will even calculate you the quickest route possible!
Top 5 Museum iPhone apps
Using the Museums new public WiFi system, Explorer – after AMNHDinosaurs, themuseum’s second mobile app – pinpoints a users location and offers turn-by-turn directions to exhibits, cafs, restrooms, and other facilities as well as information about more than 140 objects and specimens, custom tours, and a dinosaur treasure hunt.
You can choose from a variety of museum-designed tours, either focussing on the Museum’s highlights or in-depth guided tours. Alternatively,you create their own tours on the spot, choosing from a variety of popular exhibits, specimens or artefacts. If you see somethingyou like,share youradventures by posting to Facebook and Twitter, or bookmark yourfavourite objects to receive links with more information to explore from home.
The AMNH Explorer app (freely available for iPhone and iPod Touch) can be downloaded from the iTunes store, or you can borrow one of the 300 devices from the museum (at no charge, although a $250 hold will be placed on your credit card). If you run into any troubles or questions using it, just ask the Museum’s staff, they’ll gladly help you out.
The American Museum of Natural History’s mobile application isn’t the first, but it surely is one of the most impressive ‘Museum Guide’ so far.
Compared to the many ‘social media’ and personalisation options in Explorer, the Louvre‘s mobile endeavour (although it has video) seems overly static.
Any real competition for the AMNH Explorer is most likely to come from the Brooklyn Museum.One of New York’s smallest museums,it was the first (as far as I know) to get a seriously functioning app out there.In addition, through the Brooklyn Museum API,they aregivinginterested developers access to their collection data.
Most entertaining mobile app award still goes to the Smithsonian’s MEanderthal app, whichmorphs you into a caveman in no time.
As I tend to repeatedly get lost – or at least seriously disoriented – in the British Museum (I have a huge suspicion that over the centuries the institution evolved so all roads lead to or Roman galleries and/or the gift shop!) I can’t help butbeing a tad jealous. Why aren’t we getting anyneatmobile apps (besides the Museum of London’s Streetmuseum)?
‘A History of the World in100 Objects’ would have made excellent content for a museum-based app?London is the centre of innovation (right?), so could we please have a cool iPhone or Android app to guide us through its most famous museum? Maybe in time for the Egyptian Book of the Dead exhibition? I’d love to take the journey through the afterlife on mobile.