February 10th, 2013

David Byrne's account of a recent visit to the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania included an interesting account of the way the museum supplies information about the collection to visitors:

There are no wall labels. None. One is provided with an iPod touch on entry that, via a kind of Mona GPS, can tell where you are. You then tap on a thumbnail of a piece if you want to know more about the art in front of you. "Know more" is divided into various subcategories. Ideas is a sentence or two about the work beyond who made it. Artwank, is, as you might expect, some scholarly essay on the piece or the artist – the symbol for this category is a cock and balls. The Gonzo button usually led to a more personal reaction to the piece from [NOMA founder David Walsh] or Elizabeth Mead, who helped in collecting a lot of the stuff. It might be a poem, an amusing anecdote or something that seems almost completely off topic – like trouble with a boyfriend. Lastly there is Media, which often consists of a casual audio interview with the artist, but sometimes could be something else entirely. […] If you offer up your email address, the thing will track your visit via GPS and then send you a link to a website showing you what you saw. Here's mine:

MONA app screenshot

You can also find out from this site what you missed – I think I saw most of it.

I think that if I'd travelled all the way back to the UK only to be told by MONA's web site/app that I'd missed out on some exhibit that would have made my visit then I'd be less than thrilled. Best not use that feature unless you're in a position to make a quick return visit, I think.

Other than that, it sounds like a neat app.

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