Tag Archives: Historic house

App Spotlight: Toledo Museum of Art

25 May

Toledo Museum of Art Audio GuideQ&A with Maria Iafelice, Docent Program Manager at Toledo Museum of Art

Since its founding in 1901, the Toledo Museum of Art’s mission has been art education and it has earned a global reputation for the quality of their collection, their innovative and extensive education programs, and their architecturally significant campus. More than 30,000 works of art represent American and European painting, the history of art in glass, ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian works, Asian and African art, medieval art, sculpture, decorative arts, graphic arts, and modern and contemporary art. The app provides content that caters to a variety of audiences and allows visitors to explore the galleries in alternative ways.

Q. How does the app enhance the visitor experience?

A. 
TMApp integrates technology into the gallery experience and provides a sensory learning opportunity for visitors to look, listen and learn; we know that people learn in different ways. Additionally, TMApp creates an opportunity for new audiences to access and connect with our collection and for current audiences to see it in new ways. TMApp allows us to communicate with our visitors and also help them to navigate the space.

Q. The app features a very unique approach to an audio tour, with original poems inspired by the TMA collection penned and read by revered Irish poet Paul Durcan. Was it always the intention to use his work in the app when he began his residency at the museum?

A. 
It was a great honor to have Irish poet Paul Durcan write a book of poetry inspired by works in the TMA collection. While working on the project, we knew we wanted to incorporate his poetry in the galleries. The timing of his public poetry readings and the beginning of our relationship with OnCell was happenstance. This audio tour inspired another poetry-related audio tour that’s currently in the works.

Scavenger narrator Cardinal Antonio Barberini gives users clues to locate an animal on the loose in the galleries.

Q. Another unique feature of the app is a “wild animal hunt” for a creature who has found its way out of an artwork and prompts families to follow clues around the museum.  What inspired you to create this experience in the app?

A. Because the Toledo Museum of Art has a long history of immersing children in the world of art, we believe that it’s never too early to start the learning and engagement process. The goal of the Escape! scavenger hunt on TMApp was to have a fun and playful way for families to explore the galleries and to look closely at works of art.

Q. How has the app been received by visitors and colleagues?

A. We’ve received a number of positive reviews including a young visitor who was so excited about the scavenger hunt that he wanted to come back the next day to explore again!

Q. How do you plan to leverage the app builder to share new content?

A. We’ve used the builder to ensure the app is updated and reflects rotating exhibitions. For example, visitors were able to dive deeper into our special exhibition Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic with a mobile guide that includes artist interviews, with video and audio interviews with the artist; images of the Old Master works of art that were the sources for poses, titles, and other details; audio commentary; and other contextual information. We have also used the guide to include information about TMA collection connections, a soundtrack (on Spotify) inspired by the exhibition and created by the TMA Teen Apprentices, and a selection of audio descriptions for visitors with vision impairments. Visitors can look forward to new guides coming this spring that will include accessibility features including extended audio descriptions.

Q. What advice would you give to other organizations who are looking to create an app?

A. You don’t have to do it alone. This project is a collaborative effort across multiple departments including Information Systems, Marketing and Education & Engagement which has been important in the development phase. Additionally, frontline staff has been leveraged to promote the TMApp experience.

The TMapp app features original audio and poetry, gallery tour, an interactive scavenger hunt, and essential visitor info such as admission and floorplans. The app will soon be paired with location-aware beacons to help visitors discover content. It is available for download on iOS in the App Store and Android in Google Play. Access the web app on any web-enabled device at TMAapp.oncell.com.

App Spotlight: Cranbrook House and Gardens

2 Jun

Cranbrook House and Gardens smartphone app for iOS and Android

Q&A with Eric Franchy, Public Relations Coordinator at Cranbrook House and Gardens

Cranbook House and Gardens, located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, is the oldest historic manor in metropolitan Detroit and serves as the centerpiece of the Cranbrook Educational Community campus, a National Historic Landmark. Formerly the estate of Ellen Scripps and newspaper mogul George Booth, Cranbrook is an English-Tudor house designed in the American Arts and Crafts style by famed Detroit architect Albert Kahn in 1908. The grounds of the house and gardens spans over 40 acres and sees over 5,000 visitors a year. The app provides an audio tour rich with historic imagery and introduces visitors to the history of Cranbrook prior to guiding them through the gardens.

Q. What was the main goal for creating an app for the Cranbrook House and Gardens?

A. 
The goal for providing an app was to enhance the visitor experience. Our initial idea was to take our garden tour into the virtual sphere and to help our guests navigate the property. Once we began working with the OnCell app builder we realized there was potential for us to create an all-inclusive app.

Q. You launched your app last year and put it on hold for the winter lull. Did you learn any lessons from the previous year and make any adjustments for your spring relaunch?

A. The native app wasn’t live until the end of summer last year; as such, we decided to use the remainder of our tour season last year as a soft-launch for testing purposes. As a result of testing we did make some edits to the app, such as slowing down the duration of our image gallery from light speed to one that allows the user to actually see each image! We changed the design of the app homepage this year to make it more visually inviting and mobile friendly, and also incorporated OnCell’s new ‘Favorites’ function.

Q. How has the app been received by visitors and colleagues?

A. Our app was just announced to the public in late-May, but so far it has been well received. I spoke with two guests yesterday who were visiting from out of state, they told me they were in front of one of our sculptures and wanted to know more about it, so they opened the app and found exactly what they were looking for. The beta team of members and colleagues that helped us test the app during the soft-launch last year were really impressed with the app and all of its features.

A visitor uses the Cranbrook House and Gardens mobile app

Standing above the reflecting pool, a visitor uses the Cranbrook House and Gardens mobile app to tour the gardens.

Q. How does your organization promote the app and encourage its use?

A. We promote the app and encourage its use through a press release announcement to media, email announcement to the public, inclusion on our website, social media postings, onsite signage, inclusion in our Visitor Guide & Map brochures, and informational rack cards.

Q. The app looks great–nicely curated with both modern and archival images along with wayfinding info. How long did it take your team to gather the content and publish your app?

A. Thank you! It took us about two months of researching archival databases, scripts, and other information to gather the tour content, and another one to two months to design the app. The biggest challenge was trimming all of the content gathered into an amount acceptable for display on a mobile device; Cranbrook has such a rich history!

Q. Do you have advice for other orgs that may be interested in developing an app?

A. Have fun with it, be creative, and think about how you want the app to be structured before you begin building pages.

Q. What are the next steps in your organization’s visitor engagement strategy?

A. We plan to continue to find creative ways for the app to improve visitor engagement. In addition to the app tours, we may add one or a few scavenger hunts of varying difficulty. New technologies such as push notifications that could give us the possibility of alerting users of what’s in bloom each week are currently being explored as well.

The Cranbrook House and Gardens smartphone app features interpretive audio, video, and image galleries, along with an interactive map and visitor info such as events and admission. It is available for download on iOS in the App Store and Android in Google Play. Access the web app on any web-enabled device at http://cranbrookhouseandgardens.toursphere.com

3 Museums with Award-Winning Apps!

26 Jun

It’s been a great year so far for our clients!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art won a prestigious 2013 MUSE Award from the American Association of Museums last month — in the  Games and Augmented Reality category. Built on the TourSphere mobile platform, and co-produced with Green Door Labs, Murder at the Met: An American Art Mystery is a mobile detective game . Visitors use their smartphone to explore museum objects and interview suspects and witnesses in order to solve the murder of Virgine Gautreau, the woman immortalized in Jean Singer Sargent’s masterpiece Madame X.

Gore Place and the deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum took First Place and Honorable Mention, respectively, for Best Mobile App at the 2013 New England Museum Association Awards. Both apps are outdoor self-guided GPS tours that offer detailed interpretations of their grounds.

The American Association for State & Local History also awarded the Gore Place app with a 2013 Award of Merit.

We’re always honored to work with such fantastic clients – congratulations from all of us here at TourSphere!

Award Winners

Tour Strawbery Banke Museum on your Smartphone with President Obama

4 Sep

Our friends at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH are having an exciting week! They recently announced that President Barack Obama will visit Strawbery Banke as a campaign stop this Friday, along with Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.

Obama is the first president since George Washington to visit Strawbery Banke.

If you’re interested in exploring Strawbery Banke, but want to avoid the hassles of security clearance and Secret Service details, there is another way to experience this iconic New England living history museum: TourSphere’s Strawbery Banke mobile phone tour is a self-guided tour through 400 years of history, which you can experience onsite – or from the comfort of their own home.

Whether you use the Strawbery Banke iPhone tour as a guide for a live visit or as an armchair traveler, you’ll have the chance to discover why President Obama chose Strawbery Banke as his New Hampshire campaign stop.

Congratulations to Larry Yeardon, John Forti, Stephanie Seacord, and all of our friends at Strawbery Banke!

The “Listen to the Landscape” app at Strawbery Banke Museum

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