Museums Corner | Mobile apps for museums: explore with your smartphone

Smartphones are ingenious. They can be used for much more than just shooting temperamental cartoon birds. The author of this article – who uses an ancient cell phone with buttons on a day-to-day basis – had the pleasure of discovering the fact when she went on a quest to find Danish and foreign apps for museums and how these can be beneficial for your museum experience.

What is a museum app?

The first museum apps surfaced abroad in 2009 and the idea has captured Denmark too, as The National Gallery of Denmark and The National Museum of Denmark have recently developed applications that can broaden your museum experience. With an app you can explore the museums at home or on the go. You can take your smartphone along to the museum as well and experience the exhibition in a whole different light with the app.


Bring the frescos back to life

The frescos in the Danish churches contain an abundance of spectacular, eerie and beautiful narratives, but can seem inaccessible. Not anymore! With the National Museum of Denmark’s app, ‘The ear in the wall’, the stories are being revoked and brought to life and the ancient ornamentations from the Middle Age and the Renaissance no longer seem so far away and untouchable. The app is a guide to the best frescos in Denmark – at 136 churches across the country – and contains three different narratives for each church. First and foremost, you are presented with different data concerning the individual church and its frescos. Subsequently you can – while moving around the said church – listen to selected stories about the figurines on the walls. The narratives are of appropriate length and are recorded by professional actors, giving you a unique audio experience.


Behind Hammershøi

The National Gallery of Denmark has placed posters depicting Hammershøi’s famed ‘Stand-ing, naked woman’ around Copenhagen, but without the woman. When you have downloaded the museum’s app and hold your smart phone in front of the poster, the woman will come walking into the picture! Afterwards you can take a picture of yourself and the woman together in the same space. The author found this amusing when she tried it out with the iPod she borrowed from the ticket sales counter at the museum. The Hammershøi app offers several interesting moments. Warm up with a film about the artist and explore the exhibition with your smartphone. In the app’s gallery you can find six works by Hammershøi that lead you to a film recorded at the very places where the artist painted the pictures. A travel letter written by either Vilhelm or Ida Hammershøi is being read aloud, and the past is linked to the present. Should you be interested in what happens behind the scenes, your app will tell you that the Hammershøi exhibition has actually has been on route for several decades, and you can discover how the decisions concerning the hanging of the paintings in the exhibition were processed.


Apps for Danish museums

Find apps for other Danish museums such as the app for The Old City in Aarhus and the app ‘A Blast from the Past’ created for Roskilde Museum. Try out the digital guide to the Krøyer exhibition at The Hirschsprung, or use one of the iPods lent out by Helsingørs Dockyard Museum for podwalks.


MoMa in the lead

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City is one of the museums abroad that has assumed a leading position in developing interesting supplements for the museum experience. MoMa has developed an app, which offers an exploratory look through MoMa’s extensive art index, sends MoMa-designed postcards to your friends, guides you through the exhibitions with its audio programmes, composes a playlist for your trip around the museum, and keeps an eye out for new and engrossing upcoming exhibitions.


London’s StreetMuseum and going along Dickens for a night wandering

There is another app that has maintained a top position in the charts: Museum of London’s Street Museum. Through a link to the museum’s picture archive, you can get a unique look at the new and old London. Use the app when you are moving around in the city and discover what your favourite places looked like in the old days. Another variant of this app is ‘StreetMuseum Londinium’, which guides you around Roman London! The Museum of London also offers an app that is all about Charles Dickens, ‘Dickens: Dark London’, which attaches itself to the museum’s current exhibition on Charles Dickens, which ends on June 10. The app is an interactive graphic novel telling of Dickens’s gloomy night wanderings in London.

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