McNay creates iPad app for interactive museum experience

The McNay Art Museum is rolling out its first app for the Apple iPad that uses what museum officials call “augmented reality” to experience works of art in multi-sensory ways.

Patrons will need the Reality Check app to view the exhibition Real/Surreal: Selection from the Whitney Museum of American Art, on view through May 19, 2013. Patrons will need to check out iPads with the app in the museum lobby to experience the exhibit. All museum guests have to show a valid ID.

“Reality Check encourages engagement in the museum on a personal level. Visitors cast votes, mix soundtracks, and hear from some of the artists,” says Kate Carey, director of education. “Because the augmented reality software recognizes works of art as specific markers, you have to be in the museum to play. It’s like a tech savvy search-and-find meets a choose-your-own-adventure story.”

The exhibition features works by Charles Burchfield, Paul Cadmus, Joseph Cornell, Philip Guston, Edward Hopper, Man Ray, Ben Shahn, Charles Sheeler, Yves Tanguy, George Tooker, and Andrew Wyeth.

The McNay collaborated with Augmented Ideas, a San Antonio-based mobile app development studio that creates apps for iOS, Android and Windows 8 mobile. AI designer Adam Watkins is head of the 3D Animation & Game Design program at the University of the Incarnate Word. AI’s Denny Fagan is instructor in the Graphics Arts department at UIW.

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