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Visit the Art Institute of Chicago - from your sofa

Whilst we have a lot of great museums and display spaces here in the UK, we know that there is a whole world of Art installations and collections that we will never see.  The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) for example have one of the worlds best collections of French Impressionist paintings apparently and this collection is showcased in the AIC's first app French Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The app is interesting because, as well as being a virtual tour of the collection (not all of which is viewable at any one time in the Institute itself) there are additional features that visitors to the Institute would not get on their own, such as extra descriptions of the paintings and artist biographies. The app offers a good deal of information for students of French Impressionism too, with the artwork being viewable on your iPad to study.

The HD version of the app is available with a 33% discount for at least today (we are nearing the end of their two week introductory period) making it just $3.99 (£2.39) in the app store. The iPhone version is offered with 50% off at $1.99 (£1.19).

Below we take a look at the company behind this app and how creative organisations can deliver enhanced content like this to mobile devices. But first, here are some of the key features of the French Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago app:

  • High-resolution images of 100+ iconic works—drawn from the original scans that only the Art Institute has—from the museum’s world-renowned collection
  • Informative and engaging entries on each painting by the museum’s curators
  • Biographies of the 22 artists whose works are represented
  • Videos related to the art works and to the history of the collection
  • Narrated virtual tours of select Impressionist galleries at the museum
  • A photo-rich history of the development of this magnificent collection
  • Exclusive detailed descriptions not available in the galleries

The Business Model for Creative Institutions

As well as the app itself, our interest was aroused by the video below regarding the business model and service offered by the Developers of the app Toura, a New York based company who provide a solution called Toura Mobile App Producer. This enables their clients to create multi-media tours and guides which are then distributed via the iTunes App store, as well as to Android, Nokia and BlackBerry platforms.

This method of content creation from existing resources such as current CMS systems is an interesting and developing form of digital publishing, which of course has been given a massive boost by devices such as the iPhone and more specifically the iPad with its larger display.

Watch the video below for more info on how Toura developed this model, how the process works, their funding, and their expansion plans in this industry:

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