MoMA Audio+ Makes Modern Art Mobile

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Gone are the days of scribbling in the margins of a museum map to take note of artists and artworks, at least that’s the case at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City—better known as “MoMA” to most art lovers.

MoMA, already widely acclaimed for its excellence and innovation, knew that a new user experience would better engage their guests, both within the museum walls and long after leaving. Enter MoMA Audio+, a new mobile platform that brings an interactive museum experience right to visitors’ fingertips.

MoMA Audio+


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Not your typical audio guide.

Unlike prior audio devices, MoMA Audio+ offers a variety of ways for users to explore. The traditional type of audio guide is not wholly abandoned, however; one can still search by number for artist or object name for direct access to audio.

But Audio+ makes the endeavor dynamic, interactive and tailored to each visitor’s individual interests and desired experience. Museum guests can now explore by museum floor or by curated tour, as well—providing a more engaging and informed walk through the MoMA halls.

MoMA Audio+

Image by Martin Seck, courtesy of MoMA

MoMA Audio+

Image by Martin Seck, courtesy of MoMA

A personalized path, and photographs.

The Audio+ iPod tracks the visit from start to finish—stops made, artists and pieces explored, photographs taken—and exports them to a personalized page available for later access through Called “My Path,” this individual, private link allows visitors to revisit their trip and to share it with others.

Integrated photo taking has proven to be the most popular feature to date in the device’s rollout. “Visitors’ response to the photography piece has been incredible,” said Allegra Burnette, Creative Director of Digital Media at MoMA.

“People are really making use of the camera on the device to capture their experience, even though they have their own devices. We are looking now at how people could share those photos with MoMA to make it even more interactive.”

MoMA Audio+

Image by Martin Seck, courtesy of MoMA

Digging deeper with expanded content.

MoMA possesses an astounding research archive, and Audio+ makes even more of that content readily available to visitors—in an accessible format, at the time and place they want it. The device offers extras from highlight books, conservations texts and more, contextualizing each work of art and expanding visitors’ connection and understanding.

Guests remain in control of how deep they want to dig, and exactly which subjects they want to delve into, or not. A text-to-speech feature means visitors can choose to listen to this content rather than read, letting eyes focus on the museum’s collection and not the screen.

MoMA Audio+

Image by Martin Seck, courtesy of MoMA

Traditional museum visit, meet the digital age.

Audio+ is about making MoMA more accessible, and sets the course for the museum to make further strides into the digital realm. Next spring, a MoMA Audio+ app for iOS and Android devices will join the museum-issued iPods, allowing visitors to access the programming directly from their own device.

On personal devices, interaction and connectivity will only increase with the added ability to share activity through social networks. Opportunities for social, sharing and discussion are a top priority for MoMA here, with several strategies already in the pipeline.

Designed and developed in-house with some help from Pivotal Labs, MoMA will have the ready knowledge to continually add features and improve app performance. Visitor-centered research motivated the decision to continue distributing physical devices even with the app, which are available with thanks to funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

MoMA Audio+

Image by Martin Seck, courtesy of MoMA

“MoMA has always been a place that actively stimulates new ideas, connections, conversations and sparks creativity, and now visitors will be able to personalize, share, create, and collaborate on a new level, and enjoy an ongoing engagement with the Museum and its resources,” said Wendy Woon, Senior Deputy Director for Education.

MoMA Audio+ isn’t just about improving technology. It’s about creating a better user experience. It’s about looking at how implementing a digital interface can enhance our interaction with the analog world. It’s about using cross platform technologies to connect people with the museum, with content and with each other.

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