July 29, 2010

Using Mobile Phones to Guide Museum Visitors

The American Museum of Natural History, in New York, offers a great example of how museums and other cultural institutions can use the iPhone and other smart-phone devices to help patrons navigate collections and learn about exhibits.

Its new iPhone application, AMNH Explorer, gives visitors access to customized tours of the museum and provides turn-by-turn directions to specific points of interest and to restrooms. For visitors who don't have iPhones, the museum lends them for free.

You can learn more about the application by watching the preview video above.

The social-media Web site Mashable notes that other museums—notably the Brooklyn Museum, in New York, and the Graphic Design Museum, in the Netherlands—have iPhone apps. But it praises the American Museum of Natural History's for the depth of its application.

"This is by far the most robust we've seen," writes Lauren Indvik, a Mashable assistant editor. "We're especially impressed that the museum is ensuring that the technology is available to everyone."

What are some other ways that museums and other cultural institutions can use smartphones? Please comment below to share your thoughts.