I just returned from Boston, where I spent the weekend with other arts management faculty working on, among other things, next April’s convention in Boston. Following the meeting, because I was unable to get a flight out the same day (thanks, Mr. Favre), I was able to spend an afternoon seeing some historic sights. I discovered a great tool for helping me do this: a mobile app that provided a wonderful self-guided tour of Boston’s Freedom Trail. Here’s a look:
Pretty cool, huh? But it’s not the only cultural app I’ve been using lately…I have apps for the Louvre, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, The Orsay (guided by Rick Steves), the Smithsonian Channel and, of course, NPR News, NPR Music and several other public radio apps.
Here’s my favorite. Fotopedia, an online photo encyclopedia project, has teamed with UNESCO World Heritage Sites to create a breathtaking app with pictures and information about 890 Heritage Sites around the world. You can search in a particular location, learn about a random site, and view spectacular pictures. Here’s a sample:
Technology in the Arts has featured several articles on mobile apps recently, as more and more arts and cultural organizations experiment with them. They seem like a very attractive option for arts orgs, since patrons can use them for everything from finding the venue to learning about art works as they tour a museum. Of course, like websites in the 90s, many community arts organizations are going to be left out of the loop for a while, until the cost and ease of developing and maintaining an app becomes more accessible.
So what’s a smaller arts organization to do? There are many ways to take advantage of mobile technology without having to invest in a full app. Here are two ideas:
First, consider optimizing your website for mobile use. No matter if you have a mobile app or not, patrons can reach you on their mobile devices by going to your website. But if your patrons will lose patience if they have to pinch and stretch and only visit a small section of your website at any one time. Here’s an example of the difference between a standard website viewed on a mobile device and an optimized site:
Technology in the Arts has a good article on this topic.
The second idea is to work with your local tourism folks. Chances are that they are going to be able to jump on the mobile bandwagon before individual community arts organizations, and it will be useful for them to be able to include various attractions on their apps.
Those are a couple of ideas…do you have others? What arts-related mobile apps do you use?