I love going to museums. Any time I’m in a new town, I look for the local art, history, or discovery museum. My mom used to drag us to them as kids and I guess it just stuck with me. She loves taking guided tours. Every time we visit a new place, she’s always trying to get me to buy the audio tour. You know, the one where you listen to a docent tell the history of a painter or point out something interesting about a sculpture. I usually pass on those. “Boring,” is usually how I answer my mom.
However, the Cleveland Museum of Art has a new self-guided tour that I would say, “yes” to in a heartbeat.
The CMA has created a user-based tour that features a 40-foot touch screen wall and an iPad.
According to the New York Times, visitors start out at the wall, which displays all 3,000 objects in the museum. When a visitor touches one of the objects, it increases in size and gathers like-pieces so you can see a grouping of similarly-themed objects. If you touch the heart in the corner, it will be added to your personalized favorites list, which you can transfer to either your own iPad or one you’ve rented for $5 per-day.
Once you’ve found all of your favorite art pieces, you can share your personalized tour with others. “It’s very democratic. You can create a tour, and give it a funny name, and other people will follow it through the museum,” sais David Franklin, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. It’s like social networking for museums.
Similar to a self-guided audio tour, the iPad tour offers additional information about items in the CMA’s collection. However, the app used in the tour includes multimedia features that you just couldn’t get any other way.
For example, instead of seeing a tapestry set on a white wall in a sterile museum, which is how you would view it in real life, the app shows images of the artwork in its originals setting, in a room filled with other, beautiful tapestries.
In addition to images and in-depth information, the iPad app also offers videos of some pieces. For example, one particular installment includes a time-lapse video of its creation.
Now that’s a self-guided tour I’d love to take.