Tuesday, 2 December 2014




With the holiday season upon us, here's an early gift to keep everyone happy over the break (since I know we're going to miss museums so much!). I've scoured the app store for the best museum apps that don’t require visiting a museum to enjoy. Yes, that’s right, not a single virtual tour or audio guide in sight! All these apps were developed by museums to create buzz around exhibitions or their community. And the best part is they’re all FREE!

1) Londinium StreetMuseum
Discover London during the Roman years on a virtual archeology tour. Developed by the Museum of London and the History Channel, the app features a walking tour map of London where you retrace the city’s Roman roots. Here’s the awesome part: you don’t need to be in London to appreciate this app! Click on the pins to dig up artifacts found at different sites, or watch short videos reenacting Londinium life.

Uncovering an artifact.
Play archeologist and collect artifacts on your journey.
2) The Peacock Room comes to America
Explore the Victorian dining room and all its objects. The Smithsonian app allows you to discover every aspect of the room by clicking on each piece of porcelain and decorative art. Finally, create your own porcelain cabinet in a postcard you can send to your friends. The Peacock Room was painted by artist James McNeill Whistler in the 1870s and filled with porcelain by Frederick Leyland, a shipping magnate form Liverpool.

Room with vases and pottery on shelves.
Every object in the Peacock Room is clickable. What fun!
3) MoMA Art Lab
Release your inner artist! The MoMa Art Lab, developed by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, lets you try your hand at different modern art styles. Create a mobile in the style of Alexander Calder. Or a line design room in the tune of Jim Lambie. Save and share your best works!

A face made out of shapes.
I may not be an artist, but MoMA will let me try!
4) Creatures of Light
For those looking for a little “light” reading (no pun intended), the Creatures of Light app, by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, offers fascinating insight into the world of bioluminescence. And yes, there are deep-sea creatures. Click on interactive diagrams to see the different parts of a firefly, or an interactive map to learn about land creatures that glow.

A map showing examples of bioluminescence on land.
Explore the world of bioluminescence.
5) Virtual Heart
Finally, from the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, comes the Virtual Heart app. The app puts you in control of a beating heart. Speed up the number of beats per minute and see what happens. Look inside the heart and examine the electrical system. Dare I say it’s strangely addicting?

A beating heart.
Change the beat and see what happens.
Please share your opinions about these apps. And be sure to tell us about your favourite museum apps in the comments.


  1. Jenny, what a great example of how museums manifests themselves virtually in multiple ways! It is intriguing to see that certain experiences require little to no interaction with the museum itself. And I agree there is danger of addiction with many of these :)

  2. What a coincidence that the Peacock Room came up in our Exhibitions, Interpretation, and Communication class today while we watched the Ben Stiller promotional commercial for the Smithsonian. I'm definitely going to have to look into that app; it's wonderful that the Smithsonian is putting the spotlight on this beautiful work to give it the attention it deserves despite the fact that its intended owner did not feel the same way when it was first created. As for the beating heart one... I'll pass that along to a friend applying to med school!