I don’t claim any level of expertise to comment on the art at the newly upgraded Museum of Contemporary Art. But their newly launched apps, that’s a different subject.
The MCA has two apps: MCA OnSite and MCA Insight.
MCA OnSite uses the Aurasma augmented reality engine. I’ve had a lot of fun with Aurasma, creating my own little augmented reality applications so I was looking forward to trying this out. The biggest problem is that the MCA has chosen to have it work off a number of newspaper articles and advertisements rather than anything obviously in the museum itself. It is cool they are trying out the technology, but right now it adds absolutely nothing to the experience of visiting the museum. If you are interested in having a look, I recommend downloading the Aurasma app itself rather than the slightly branded MCA version. You can see the same stuff either way.
MCA Insight is more what you’d hope for – an app to help guide you around the museum. There are some good features to this app. You get some background on the pieces, it tells you which room you are in, you can save info on favourite pieces and have a tour emailed to you for later viewing. All not bad.
It would have been better if the app gave you a more precise idea of where you are. I’ve seen similar apps which show you exactly what you’re standing in front of instead of just which (large) room you are in. I spent a fair bit of time fumbling about pressing on tiny icons trying to orient myself within a room. When I did find the piece I was standing in front of the information immediately available was the same as wtitten on the little wall-notice describing the piece, which as often as not made it a waste of time looking at the app.
MCA Insight has a lot of potential, but that’s not realised yet. In fact the two apps together have an astonishing potential in a contemporary art environment to both explain and expand on upon the artwork. Hopefully the MCA won’t stop here and we’ll see some really good stuff in the future. Today the free MCA Insight is worth taking with you, but it wont add a huge amount to your visit. It may be more use before your visit getting an idea about what you will see.