Art Works Blog

Top 5 Blog Posts of 2016: There's an app for that

We're welcoming 2017 by spending this first week of the new year looking back at the blog posts you loved the most in 2016. Coming in our top 5 countdown is our blog post rounding up free museum apps. What are you waiting for? Start the year with a new app! 

You’re just a few finger taps away from visiting a museum. That’s right...there’s an app for that! Swipe your way into this list of museums which offer a free app meant to bring you closer to their exhibits and collections. Look no further than the palm of your hands to plan your next museum visit. Get a digital tour of a museum’s gallery or use some of these apps while you’re inside the museum halls, to interact with the exhibits in a virtual way. Download an app and enjoy your interactive museum visit today!

All the apps listed below are available for both iPhone and Android users.

Guggenheim Museum

New York City, New York

Jump into this app to see the museum’s collections through its color-coded digital galleries. The app’s multimedia guides allow users to enter an exhibit and make the users feel like they are standing in the room, even if they are not. Using the museum map on the app, users can walk into an exhibit on any floor with just one click and get the opportunity to watch exclusive videos with curators and artists. There are audio and visual tours of current exhibits on the app as well as past exhibits and the museum’s permanent collection, giving users an in-depth analysis behind each work of art. If there’s a specific collection at the museum you like, the app allows you to instantly find it by entering the identification number, which then lets you download the collection right to your phone. Looking for something in particular? The app allows users to browse a collection by artist, date, and art type. Finally, the app is also friendly for the young audience by providing a “kids only” option for voiceovers and explanations. 

Screenshot of the app.

Tate Gallery

London, England

Tate’s Gallery has a handful of apps to choose from, but Magic Tate Ball is one of the great free options for iPhone and Android users to download. Inspired by the Magic 8 ball, players can shake their phone “in search of an answer to one of life’s mysteries.” In other words, when users shake their phone, this clever app presents you with an artwork that is linked to your surroundings. How does the app determine the artwork for you? It uses the time of day, date, GPS location, local weather conditions, and ambient noise levels before bringing art to your daily fate. Each artwork is associated to the contextual information around you. The closest match is delivered to your phone with a short description and depending on the artwork, a longer Tate interpretation. Not to worry, your daily artwork results are saved on the app to revisit later.

Screenshot of the app.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

Los Angeles, California

Get an up-close-and-personal experience of Renaissance drawings, French furniture, Impressionist paintings, American photographs, and much more from this museum’s app. With zoomable, hi-resolution images, the app provides descriptions of more than 150 works of art by legendary artists. Users can read through a brief analysis of each artwork and also examine them in multiple views right at their fingertips.

Screenshot of the app.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Los Angeles, California

Search the full collection and current exhibitions of LACMA through their mobile app, which provides access to more than 85,000 works of art! Users can tour through each of the exhibits and read about the objects at their leisure. While you’re at the museum, open the app and enter a stop number if there’s a particular piece you want to get closer to and learn more about. LACMA’s app makes it simple to plan a trip, see upcoming events, and return to a collection that you might not have gotten the chance or time to view in person.

Screenshot of the app.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)

New York, New York

Can’t get over a piece of art you saw at the Met? With their app, you’ll be able to save your favorite art on your personal device so you can enjoy it over and over again. The app provides information on current and past exhibits with detailed descriptions and history. On the app, users can take an audio tour of a gallery or theme of their choice. Another feature enables users to learn more about the “artwork of the day,” which presents users with a daily piece of art to get familiar with. The app also gives must-see highlights, upcoming exhibit information, ticket purchases, and activities for families and children.

Screenshot of the app.

The Smithsonian Institution

Washington, DC

The 20 museums of the Smithsonian have a home on mobile devices. Instead of getting frazzled over how to keep up with updates from all the various locations, let the app be your one-stop shop. The app filters content based on which museum users are interested in. One of the unique features on the app lets users share tips and photos with other museum visitors using the app. Although specific information about unique artifacts is not on the app, users can still learn about the exhibits on display at the museum and get highlights of each. Not to mention, another feature on the app gives quick access to tune into relevant podcasts.

Screenshot of the app.

Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The app for Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum has a unique touch to it. Take a virtual tour of the museum and literally see yourself walk up the steps before entering an exhibit. Once in the exhibit, the multimedia app let’s you scroll through the objects and select whichever work of art speaks to you to learn more about it. Each work of art is paired with an historical audio or video background summary. Before starting a tour, the app provides users with an estimated completion time. If you have 45 minutes to spare, you can walk through the 17th century collection. Use the app to also find more information about the more than 200 artworks at Rijksmuseum. Finally, the app let’s users have some collaborative fun through a game-like feature called, “Family Quest.” The feature challenges up to four players to work separately, or together from individual devices, to unravel secrets about eight objects in the museum for a surprise at the end!

Screenshot of the app.

Be sure to also check out our round-up of free apps to create art with

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