Kelvingrove Museum joins Smartify app

Robert Picheta, 11.07.2018
Around 350 works at the museum will be accessible on the app
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow has become the first in Scotland to join the Smartify app, allowing visitors to find information about its paintings by digitally scanning the works on their smartphones.

The app compares an image of a painting to those on its database in order to return information about the piece and its artist.

Around 350 works at the museum will be accessible via the app, which will gather information available on the Glasgow Museums Collections Online database and present it to users when a relevant work is scanned.

It is already in use at several venues in England, including the National Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts.

Its founders have said that the app was designed to provide more “human” stories than those found in audio guides or wall descriptions.

Co-founder Anna Lowe said: “Art is a truly universal language, and there are centuries of stories to tell.”

She acknowledged that use of smartphones at museums is “controversial”, but added: “We use the latest technologies and simple design to create a non-intrusive experience.

“Our ambition is to re-frame the use of smartphones as engagement rather than distraction, and to help museums build new audiences.”

Users can also save a record of the artworks they scan on the app, and access the information after they have left the site.

The app returns analytic information to partner museums, detailing audience demographics, visiting patterns and trends.

David McDonald, the chairman of Glasgow Life, which runs Glasgow Museums, said: “This is a really exciting development for Glasgow Museums.

“We are delighted to be the first venue in Scotland to join the Smartify community and offer our visitors the opportunity to experience this incredibly intuitive app.”

The company also has a partnership with Wikimedia, which allows it to use Wikipedia’s image gallery in order to return faster and more accurate results.

The app was developed with assistance from the British Library's EU-funded Innovating for Growth programme for start-ups, and won Apollo magazine’s Digital Innovation Award last year.