The Art Institute of Chicago Launches 'Indoor GPS'

The free app, developed by the Art Institute using Portland, Oregon-based Meridian's indoor-GPS software, is available from the App Store for Apple devices and from Google Play for Android devices. Its 50 tours are organized into three categories: "occasions," themes, and collections. The "occasion" tours navigate visitors through a first date, family visit, relaxing solitary time, or impressing out-of-town guests. The "occasion" tours also offer timed tours for visitors depending on how long they plan on spending at the museum--whether an hour or a full day. The themed tours organize works of art around 25 common ideas or features, including Chicago artists, children in art, fashion in art, the architecture of the museum, special frames around the museum, and self-portraits throughout the collection. And the collections section includes 15 tours of the museum's permanent holdings by subject area, such as American folk art, contemporary art, African art, arms and armor, Renaissance and Baroque art, and Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. (The only collections at the museum not covered by the tours are those that change frequently, such as photography, textiles, and works on paper.)

Each tour includes six to ten works of art with short texts as well as turn-by-turn directions and maps made possible by the museum's new indoor positioning system. Additional features of the app include descriptions of and directions to current exhibitions at the museum; the ability to learn more about specific works by accessing the Art Institute's website, complete with videos on many of the works; and directions to amenities such as restrooms and restaurants. Tours will be periodically added to the app, leading to a library of options for visitors every time they come to the museum. While the turn-by-turn navigation works best at the museum, the app also allows users to "tour" the Art Institute from an El platform, living room, or line at the grocery store.

The Art Institute will continue to offer the popular Acoustiguide audio tours of the museum, available at both the Michigan Avenue and Modern Wing entrances and outside certain special exhibitions. With the audio tours and the new Wi-Fi tours app, the works of art at one of the world's greatest museums have become even more accessible--at the fingertips of visitors both inside and outside of the Art Institute.