Chicago has always been a leader in art and innovation. With that said, it may not surprise you that The Art Institute of Chicago has released a free guided tour app. In the age of apps and GPS addicts, AIC released their response to “there should be an app for that”. They are the first major world art museum to release an app of this nature and they went the extra mile of installing wi-fi and other hidden hardware among the limestone walls so not only is the app at full strength, but it acts as a GPS turn by turn, gallery by gallery throughout your visit.
This tour app is brilliant because it allows you to search by collection, by current exhibition, by tour time, and by theme. The “tour by theme” may be the best part. Options include Birthday Suit, Chicago Artists, Loves Me/Loves Me Not, and Monkeying Around to name a few. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that Birthday Suit will take you to nudes, but the Monkeying Around theme literally takes you to all the paintings that depict monkeys! Perfect for children and twenty year old art students. Although the Art Institute will always be regarded in the utmost respect and prestige, this app really makes art accessible to everyone at all ages. After all, let’s not forget that Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte has a little monkey in the foreground.
Remember it’s not the how that’s significant when discovering art; It’s the action of discovering and exploring artists’ works that is important. This app will help you get there. It even tells you were all the restrooms are located in addition to the coat check, exits, and other useful navigation information that many people are usually embarrassed to ask about. (Take note other large institutions that offer apps but not directions.)
The AIC gets an A+ in my book for investing the time, money, and efforts to be at the forefront of what is sure to me a rising trend in museums and galleries. This enhancement doesn’t take away from guided tours at all, yet it allows visitors another way to navigate and better understand what they are viewing. (And it’s free.) However, I do imagine that there will be an audio tour option (whether for free or as an in app purchase) as newer versions of the app emerge over time. The app is available on both Apple and Android devices.
Now that the app finished downloading on your phone, get out there and use it!