Free museum apps for NYC families
Use your mobile device to enhance your experience at these cultural institutions.
Thu Jul 14 2011
American Museum of Natural History Explorer
If you're anything like us, finding the closest bathroom (a must when kids are in tow) is always a challenge. The app's GPS system offers turn-by-turn directions to exhibits, restaurants, shops—and, yes, restrooms. Theme-based tours, like "Dino Tour," offer photos and text about popular exhibits; the information, though, doesn't vary much from the actual signage.
The verdict Skip the exhibit descriptions; instead, use the app as a planning tool to help your crew find their way around the 500,000-square-foot space. For iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Our favorite feature is the Modern Kids tour, which pairs still images with audio to help little ones understand what they're looking at. The audio for Jackson Pollock's One: Number 31, 1950, for example, explains to children the complexity behind the seemingly simple technique by asking them to look at the work up-close and then from afar.
The verdict Great for learning specifics about the museum's artworks, but it's often difficult to connect to the app. (MoMA is working on the problem.) For iPhone, iPad and Android
National Museum of the American Indian Infinity of Nations
Try the app's Family Guide. Kids can explore objects from the museum's permanent collection from three points of view (those of an artist, a reporter and a traveler), hunt for items with the "Where Is It?" function or watch real-life videos (like the Northwest Coast Kwakwaka'wakw dancing ceremony, which uses an ornate mask like the one on display).
The verdict A definite winner for enabling kids to see objects in context. For iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.