The Pursuit of APPiness-NGA

museum eval jpg

First off: this thing was huge (280+ MB) and took forever to load. Almost 45 minutes. Once in the museum and fully loaded things moved a little faster, but the speed waivered as I traveled further into the cavernous galleries. Could have something to do with the massive amounts of marble all around.


I stared into Ginevra’s icy gaze for way too long waiting for the download.

The app consists of simple blurbs about current exhibits and select artwork in the collection. There is a map of the museum with blue pinpoints that demonstrate where there are works with app entries. The entries have information not included on the wall label, and audio recordings with additional information to that. The audio features were pretty interesting, but I forgot my headphones, so playing the track out loud in the gallery was a little embarrassing.

There are only 123 pieces highlighted on the app, another 44 with simpler language aimed towards kids (this is miniscule compared to the thousands upon thousands of works in the collection). You can search by Artist, Theme, Nationality, and Time Period. There are also numbers that you can key in if you see a prompt on the wall. Unfortunately, the chances of you finding a wall prompt are pretty slim since there are so few works highlighted, and the prompts don’t even mention the presence of an app, they are instead labeled “Director’s Tour.”


I checked out my namesake. Looking good, Di!

It looks like the app was only created last year, so its shortcomings are likely a product of its novice status. It’s classy looking (loved the serifed font) and has great features to zoom in on paintings or text, but overall I think it’s best use would be planning purposes before a visit. There was very little synergy between the app and the artwork in person. In fact, a guard even asked me to put my phone away because he thought I was taking pictures. Nope—just trying to explore your museum!

Overall Rating: 3


3 thoughts on “The Pursuit of APPiness-NGA

  1. Update! I was at the National Gallery today and couldn’t remember if I was in the West Wing or East Wing (I have a terrible sense of direction). I didn’t have to find a guard or brochure, I just whipped out my cell phone and brought up the app to see the museum map. An easy solution!


  2. Diana, I loved the humor and ease of reading the post!
    Also, the lack of synergy you mentioned between the app and the art is something that I wonder about with tech in museums. Do you feel like it was (to quote Christina) technology for technology’s sake?


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