Art Meets Tech In the World of Museum Apps

A person viewing the Google Arts and Culture app on their phone.

Photo credit: dennizn / Shutterstock

If you haven’t heard of the Google Arts & Culture app, you’ve probably been living under a rock. It’s the #1 most popular educational app in the Google Play store, and enjoying similar popularity in the iTunes store. But there are lots of other art and culture apps, too, often offered by individual museums. Here are several of our favorites.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

This app takes you on a guided tour of SFMOMA’s exhibits. The 15- to 45-minute walks through the galleries and the city’s streets are narrated by a variety of well-known personalities. It even has synced audio that allows social listening, so you can experience the museum with your friends, too. While you’re using the app, check out SFMOMA’s “Erasing the Rules,” featuring the works of Robert Rauschenberg, supported by a variety of generous donors including Thom Weisel, Carol and Lyman Casey, and the Barbra Osher Exhibition Fund. Right now, the SFMOMA app is only available on iOS. Get it here.

Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim’s app can be used in the museum or anywhere you happen to be. It gives you a chance to take a virtual tour of one of the best-known modern art museums in the world. It features detailed information about all the works in the Guggenheim’s collection, and you can even share your favorite pieces of art on social media. The Guggenheim app is only available on iTunes in the U.S.

The great thing about museum apps is that they can take you on virtual tours of museums all around the world. Here are a few international favorites.

The Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum, located in Amsterdam, houses many amazing paintings including Rembrandt’s “Night Watch,” and other artifacts. Using an interactive map with route directions, the app guides you from room to room, and gives you a chance to listen to stories about the works of your choice. You can also access additional commentary by experts and passionate art enthusiasts. The free app is available on iTunes and Google Play.

Museo del Prado

The Prado, located in Madrid, is home to a huge array of masterpieces including “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Bosch and “The Annunciation” by Fra Angelico. Although there aren’t a lot of works available through the app, all of them can be seen in ultra-high resolution, which allows you to discover their hidden details and secrets. The app is currently only available on iTunes (for a cost of $4.50) in the United States.

The Hermitage

The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, is one of the largest museums in the world, home to an amazing number of master works in painting, sculpture jewelry, decorative and applied arts, and unique archaeological finds. The app allows you to enjoy the museum’s masterpieces, learn more about them, and admire the palace interiors of the grand royal residence of Russian emperors. You can even save images you like, start a collection of your favorite art works, or send e-cards featuring those works. The free app is available for Android and iOs.

These are just a few of the many museum apps that are available. Check your device’s store to find apps for other world-renowned museums.

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