In conjunction with their upcoming exhibition, “iAfrica: Connecting with Sub-Saharan Art”, the Minneapolis Institute of Art [MIA] have created an iPhone application to allow visitors to handle the sacred and ancient art objects in the digital world. The application allows users to learn more about the 28 items on display, including the Congolese thumb piano, which can actually be played.
This is the second museum to include an iPhone application as part of their exhibition program. The first was the Brooklyn Museum, with the Brooklyn Museum Mobile Collection. While having mixed reviews, this iPhone app is more of a general tool for getting to know the museum. The application offers visitor information, a keyword or artist name search function to browse the collection, as well as a “randomize” feature that calls up random artworks from museum collection. There has been much question of its efficiency as an application, with various freezes and crashes reported. Overall however, this as well as MIA’s iPhone application, bring museums into the 21st century and draw in new audiences that perhaps would otherwise never enter a gallery.
MIA is also asking visitors to the exhibition to curate the future Africa galleries via their iPhone. Of course non-iPhone users and iPhone freeze and crash victims can take the survey on the gallery’s computer or their home computer.