Tour a monument, museums for free with these mobile apps
As more and more classrooms embrace digital and virtual experiences, many developers have produced mobile apps for touring the best museums and monuments in the world. Whether interested in history, art or culture, teachers can download these sleek apps to complement their lesson plans.
Walking through the galleries of the American Museum of Natural History is an awe-inspiring experience. While the Explorer app, sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies, cannot literally teleport students to the museum’s famous exhibits, it does provide a variety of virtual tours, including Highlights, Dino, Earth and Space, Night at the Museum (which covers the real inspiration behind the Ben Stiller movies), Theodore Roosevelt, and Whales. These tours are divided by highly informative slides with directions to the exhibit’s artifacts for those fortunate enough to visit theAmerican Museum of Natural History in New York City.
The Guggenheim app is relatively large, taking up north of 130 MB on your Apple or Android device. However, it is well worth the sacrificing storage space. Students are sent to a side-scrolling sample of the Guggenheim’s exhibits, both temporary and ongoing. The two featured exhibits are Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting and Photo-Poetics. Tapping on them provides a sizeable summary, photos of the artwork, and a guided audio tour featuring the actual artists commenting on their pieces. All of this functionality makes the Guggenheim a must-download for art and history educators.
Mount Rushmore Virtual Tour (iOS)
This app features an iconic United States national monument. Mount Rushmore Virtual Tour exists through a partnership between the National Parks Service, the Kacyra Family Foundation and CyArk, and the Scottish Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation. This breathtaking digital archive guides students through the entire memorial, from the Avenue of Flags to Borglum Terrace to thePresidential Trail, which leads to the mountain sculpture itself. Using a basic map with pushpins, videos and a historic slideshow, the app provides virtual perspectives of everything, allowing students to get up-close-and-personal with the faces of Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt.
The only international entry on this list, the Rijksmuseum app transports classrooms to this amazing Netherlands museum featuring artwork and history. The app separates its arrow-guided tours, which range from 45 to 90 minutes, into three sections: Highlights, Exhibitions & Themes, and Collections. As students approach artwork in the virtual tours, the app sets them up with audio and visuals for individual pieces, including analysis from historians. Students can store their favorite artwork and more in theRijksmuseum Studio, an online repository they can access via the museum’s official website.
Smithsonian Mobile serves as an app portal for all of the institution’s fabulous museums and research centers. While the app feels most suitable for students touring the Smithsonian campus during a trip toWashington, D.C., Smithsonian Mobile provides information about museum exhibits and highlights notable objects such as the Hubble Test Telescope at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. This app’s quality lies in how it shows the depth and influence of theSmithsonian Institute, so students are better served using it as a jumping off point for further research.
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