Want art? There’s an app for that

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?


About Ellen Rosewall

I am Professor and Chair of Arts Management and author of Arts Management: Uniting Arts and Audiences in the 21st Century (Oxford University Press, 2013). I believe that arts and culture are undergoing a profound change in the 21st century, and I love talking with people about how we continue to bring arts to our communities and individuals give the brave new world of social media, technology and economic changes. Join the conversation!
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10 Responses to Want art? There’s an app for that

  1. lizz weier says:

    Thank you for commenting on the difference in a website and an app. I avoid using the website option because of what you mentioned, it’s difficult to navigate having to scroll and increase the size and what not. If there is an app of anything that I enjoy I download it because they are so user friendly. I also use the Louvre app, I have an app that gives info on some works of art and their history. The NPR app was one of the first that I downloaded when I got my phone! I also love Pandora, Brushes, and phone flix(for my netflix account!)

  2. Lizz Weier says:

    I thought I left a comment already but I don’t see it…
    I hope this isn’t a duplicate
    I love my art apps on my phone. I have, as mentioned, the Louvre and NPR. I also love my Brushes app for creating art. Two others that get a workout from me are Pandora and Phone Flix, which is the app to manage my netflix account.
    I always wondered how “easy” it is to create an app? I really avoid using the websites on my phone if I can because of issues that were addressed. It is a hassle to increase size and scroll and what not. I have seen apps for all sorts of little games and such. I think it would be worth looking into “how to make and app” for an org that really wanted to integrate the market in that form. It would be like updating a website and facebook. It all has to do with technology. Maybe I’m simplifying it too much but it’s worth looking into I guess. If that’s the way social media and technology is heading I believe arts orgs have to try to keep up even small ones. Just think of how professional it would look to have an app! (never thought I would say that!)

  3. Lizz Weier says:

    yep duplicate…the second comment is a better one though!

  4. It seems like there is an app for everything these days

  5. Emilee Landon says:

    I hate going to a site and it isn’t “mobilized.” I love the apps that I have on my HTC Hero, but some websites just haven’t gotten with the program yet! I think it’s really interesting how the arts are on the go go go, just like everything else in the world today–I mean, why not, right? If we can have an app for everything from calorie counting, to bar code scanning, to shopping and crank calling people, the arts deserve a place in the technological world 🙂

  6. Krisi says:

    I know this isn’t only for art but on my cell phone I access youtube very frequently. My friend’s and I will be sitting in a restaurant or even at work and say “OMG have you heard this song yet?!?!” or “who sings that song called Little Lion Man?” I then look it up and can share with the group. This could be very useful for Art’s Organizations. They could have a youtube channel where they interview people who have attended events to get reviews which could be accessed by everyone! I know I have said this like seventy million times but I seriously think that youtube is a very under used social media website for Art’s Organizations.

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