Brooklyn Museum Launches Smart Phone Gallery Tours

Visitors to the Brooklyn Museum with mobile phones with Internet access can now create their own gallery guides to the permanent collections through a first-of-its kind program launched last week. Museum attendees who bring their Web-enabled phones will also be able to suggest works of art to fellow visitors. Based on the visitor’s initial selections, the guide will generate additional recommendations about works to see.

Anyone who wants to will now also be able to create sets of annotated objects, which function as customized tours, through the Museum Web site, These tours may be shared with friends and featured on the Museum Web site for other visitors. The Brooklyn Museum Web site now contains images and brief information on more than 11,000 objects from its comprehensive holdings, which range from antiquity to the present and
include nearly every culture.

For example, a visitor to the ancient Egyptian galleries containing more than 1,200 objects might focus on the Old Kingdom section, encompassing Dynasties 3 through 6, from 2675 through 2170. There, they might select a limestone group statue depicting a man, his wife, and their small son that was the first major work of Egyptian art ever exhibited in America. Given their interest in this statue, the program then might suggest that the visitor look at three elaborately painted wooden tomb statues depicting a man at various stages of his life and an exquisite alabaster statue of the child King Pepy II seated on the lap of his mother.

Through the aggregation of data provided by visitors and their individual tastes, the guide is designed to grow more intelligent as more visitors use it and more data is supplied. The new customized guide will be free to all visitors and may be used on any Web-enabled mobile phone.

The guide is designed as a mobile Web application, specifically engineered for the small screen of a mobile device. The object data displayed within the application is drawn from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection online and combined with the social element that each visitor contributes while in the gallery during their visit.

Eventually, the data generated by visitors using the guide in-house will be exported back into the collection online to form a recommendation system on the Brooklyn Museum Web site.

This project was developed by Shelley Bernstein, Chief of Technology, with assistance from Jennifer Bantz, Manager Interpretive Materials, Brooklyn Museum. The Web application was engineered in-house by Paul Beaudoin, Programmer, Brooklyn Museum.

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