Shortly after writing about “Digital Museums“, I came across a curious iPhone app called “Musée du Louvre“. Officially produced by the namesake majestic Parisian palace (the most visited museum in the world) it bills itself as a virtual tour and information source. Now, it hardly replaces a visit to France on your itinerary. It features text, videos, and photos of only a handful of the museum’s most famous works of art (such as the Venus de Milo, the Law Code of Hammurabi, Winged Victory, the Coronation of Napoleon, and of course the Mona Lisa). Still, since it includes floor plans, museum hours and historical information on each wing, it could make a nice companion to a physical tour.
While it’s ambition may be limited, it’s certainly a highbrow app to carry on your phone — it certainly looks better than the latest “Blond Jokes App” if you loan your phone to a friend (make sure to place it on the same screen as the Works of Shakespeare and New York Times for extra snob appeal). The price is also right — it’s free.
And of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t toss in this decade old photo of my wife doing her best Mona Lisa impression during our real life trip to the Louvre…
I do think this app shows a certain potential for individual institutions. Since programming applications for iPhones and Google Android products is relatively simple, many information institutions — museums and libraries — have the capability of designing their own apps.
Should larger public and academic library systems take the time to design and publish dedicated smart phone applications? What tools and capabilities might a library’s app feature? Are there existing examples?
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