The Museum Without Walls app is sponsored by CultureNOW, an organization formed in 2002 which celebrates our surroundings as a gallery itself. By mapping art, architecture and history in nine U.S. cities, CultureNOW hopes the app will help residents better understand the richness and diversity of their communities.
The user uncovers art and architecture in the public realm, in other words a “Museum Without Walls,” and can explore over 10,000 sites. The app is supplemented by over 750 podcasts by artists, architects, historians and curators. The app was voted New York’s Best Cultural App of 2011 and was a winner of the NY Big Apps 2.0 competition.
For each “exhibit,” the app provides you with the distance of it from where you are standing, a biographical sketch of the artist or designer, an interesting fact about the architectural feature or historic space, and a photograph. Our first time out with the app was a leisurely walk using the “search” feature. It provides you with a map of exhibits in your vicinity, a listing of how close you are to them, and a photograph. We were lead to the India House, Stone Street, Hanover Square, Delmonico’s, Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church, and Louise Nevelson Plaza. Although we walk by these locations regularly, we don’t stop to take notice some of their details, or know much about the history and cultural significance. As you continue moving, the app updates you with more locations nearby to see.
You can also take a tour of your city (there are seventeen options in New York) and listen to various podcasts which give you an in depth background to the sculptures, statues, buildings, memorials and gardens you will see. You can listen to the Architects of Ground Zero share their experiences after 9/11, walk along Broadway, follow the Route of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or take a historical tour such as “Revolutionary NYC” and “Harlem: The Capital of Black America.”
A map and photographs of the sites guide you through the route (below, left). The app even includes suggestions to other nearby cities with a cultural scene (below, right). Our only wish: while the search feature updates your location while on the move, it would have been helpful to have a geolocated map feature as well.