Finally a non-annoying use for cellphones in museums

Starting tomorrow, the Brooklyn Museum will give visitors with internet-enabled cellphones a program to create their own customized gallery guides.

So you go to the Brooklyn Museum, add an item to your cellphone gallery guide, then the program suggests other things you might want to see. You can add notes as you go, and upload your guide to the museum website for other visitors to share.

For example, a visitor to the ancient Egyptian galleries containing more than 1,200 objects might focus on the Old Kingdom section, encompassing Dynasties 3 through 6, from 2675 through 2170 B.C. There, they might select a limestone group statue depicting a man, his wife, and their small son that was the first major work of Egyptian art ever exhibited in America. Given their interest in this statue, the program then might suggest that the visitor look at three elaborately painted wooden tomb statues depicting a man at various stages of his life and an exquisite alabaster statue of the child King Pepy II seated on the lap of his mother. […]

Through the aggregation of data provided by many visitors and their individual tastes, the guide is designed to grow more intelligent as more visitors use it and more data is supplied. The new customized guide will be free to all visitors and may be used on any Web-enabled mobile phone.

That’s going to be damn handy, and I say this as someone without an internet-enabled phone. It’s so easy to find yourself wandering aimlessly in large museums. After a while even the most extraordinary objects can seem to blend into one.

On a side note, who knew the Brooklyn Museum had a 1,200-object ancient Egyptian gallery? 😮

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