10 arts and culture mobile apps from 2010

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Published on December 31st, 2010 | by Thomas Hughes


10 Arts and Culture Mobile Apps from 2010

Merely half a day away from the end of the year, today is a great day to reflect on all the different happenings in 2010. One of the big things I have been looking back on is the growth of useful mobile apps for arts and culture audiences and managers. Here is a look at ten of these apps from the past year selected by the Technology in the Arts team and you, our lovely readers:

The Florida Grand Opera | FREE

Available for: iPhone, AndroidFGOThe Breakdown: A great app for the Opera lover in us all, the Florida Grand Opera app offers news about the company, events updates, listings of upcoming performances, and streaming audio of the 2010-2011 season. One aspect of the app I really enjoyed was the videos section, containing a multitude of interviews and performances from the FGO. The only real complaint I have about the app is the necessity to sign up for updates from FGO before being allowed access into the app.

Google Goggles | FREE

Available for: iPhone, Android


The Breakdown: Google Goggles is a visual search engine built into a mobile app. It utilizes your smartphone’s camera to capture and scan an image, object, or landmark and perform a search online to provide information on it. This is a very fun app to play around with and can be very helpful when trying to identify an artwork without a clear label or an unknown landmark. The app is still in beta though and cannot identify anything that is not already currently online in some form.

The L.A. Phil | FREE

Available for: iPhone, Android, & Blackberry

laphilThe Breakdown: The LA Philharmonic app has a lot of same offerings as the Florida Grand Opera app in terms of news, media, and listings of events. What sets this app apart is the interactive Orchestra map, laying out the different groups of muscians in the LA Phil. When a user taps on a section of the orchestra, such as First Violins, they are directed to profiles of each musician with in-depth biographies. This app is packed full of great content and an excellent way to learn more about classical music and the people that perform it.

AMNH Explorer | FREE

Available for: iPhone

AMNHThe Breakdown: The Explorer app from the American Museum of Natural History is a great guide for navigating a very large museum. The app acts as a personal in-museum GPS, finding your location and providing information on the exhibits within that area. The app can not only find your location, but provide turn-by-turn directions from one exhibit to the next. This may go against some museum purists love of getting lost within a museum, but on a busy day in a museum packed with visitors this app could be an incredible advantage.

Is This Art? | FREE

Available for: iPhone

IsThisArtThe Breakdown: A fun app from the folks at Deeplocal and the Mattress Factory, Is This Art? is one way to win those age old arguments about what is and isn’t art. Users snap a picture of the art in question and open it within the app to test its validity in the art world. The explanations the app gives are often hilarious such as, “This makes me feel intellectually inferior, therefore THIS IS ART” and, “This piece is not accompanied by enough obtuse wall text, therefore THIS IS NOT ART”. All of the images users put to the test can be uploaded to the project’s ongoing blog.

Brooklyn Museum Mobile | FREE
Available for: iPhone, Android, & Blackberry

The Breakdown: Another great app for a large museum, Brooklyn Museum Mobile has less of a focus on navigation and more on community and interaction. The app brings in aspects from social media by inviting users to add descriptive tags and/or “like” artworks from the collection. This acts as a recommendation system for other visitors and encourages a more participatory experience. The aspect I like about Brooklyn Museum’s offering is that the app runs off of a mobile website, meaning that it is not device exclusive and anyone with a web-enabled device can join in the fun.

The Lighting Handbook | $4.99

Available for: iPhone

LightHandBookThe Breakdown: This is a great app for all of you theater techies. The Lighting Handbook is exactly what it sounds like, an in-depth guide to all things lighting, conveniently in your pocket.

Chicago Gangland Tour | $2.99

Available for: iPhone


The Breakdown: Ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of famous gangster Al Capone? That’s exactly what the Chicago Gangland Tour app helps you do, integrated with google maps to give users a handheld guide for a historical walkthrough of Chicago’s mafia history. This app provides info on all the different sites historical relevance and invites users to add their own comments. My favorite aspect of the app is the drop-down menu where results can be sorted by subjects like murders, shootouts, and gangster hideouts.

At The Booth | $0.99

Available for: iPhone, Android

atboothThe Breakdown: At The Booth is a full-service app for attendees of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows in New York City. The main page updates with every launch of the app and includes the latest shows and theater locations. For each show the app provides info on the showtimes, ticket prices, discounts, synopses, links to reviews and videos, and nearby restaurants. Listings will appear with a pink undertone to let users know if there are long lines at the theater. The only real complaint I have about the app is that the listings are only viewable in list form, whereas a map option would really assist in seeing all that is available in the immediate area.

The Sundance Festival 2010 | $4.99

Available for: iPhone


The Breakdown: The Sundance Festival app acts as an online brochure for the annual film festival. In addition to offering videos and reviews on films being shown, the app gives festival attendees real-time updates as to what is happening with the film fest’s various events and screenings. The one feature that this app lacks is a way to create custom schedules of screening times and events. This would be invaluable at a festival where multiple things are being offered at once and making the most of the your time requires a lot of planning.

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  • http://www.FiveNewYorkers.com Joe Harrell

    This is great, Thomas. May I add the NYC ARTS iPhone app to the list? :) http://www.nyc-arts.org/page/subscribe/46 (None of you over there were on our press list, but you are now.)

    MoMA also has a couple killer apps.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1091546089 Thomas Hughes

    You may most definitely add that to the list Joe, it’s a great app!