The summer is drawing to a close already, with back-to-school just around the corner. So it seems like a good time for an update on the fourth year of our summer intern program.
Year 4 was a bit more sane than year 3, in which we had nearly 30 interns working on enhancing the Art Authority database. With time to look back over year 3 and plan, our intern manager (who came to us thanks to her year 2 work), was able to figure out how to best build upon the year 3 work in year 4.
Whereas years 2 and 3 were mainly about bulk additions to the database, year 4 was mainly about enhancements and fine tuning. In particular we focused on over 100 artists whose collections we felt were not quite up to the quality of the rest of the Art Authority museum. For these artists, we first made sure their major works were included in their collection where possible. We then went through and updated the “metadata” associated with their collection’s works. This metadata included not only real-world museum details like date, size, and medium, but also items unique to virtual museums, like links to articles about the works and videos.
As an example, the Art Authority database includes 487 works by the American impressionist Frederick Childe Hassam. Before the summer, entries for only 5 of those works included links to articles about the work. Now there are 98 such links. Before the summer less than one-third of the entries included the medium used; now all but 10 do. Less than 100 entries originally included the size of the works (particular meaningful through our Art Real Size feature); now all but 33 do. And again less than one-third included the location of the actual work itself, versus all but 10 now (making finding and viewing the physical work much easier, especially with the help of our Art Alert app).
Three ways of exploring Hassam’s Flags.
The end result of year 4 will thus be a deeper, more meaningful collection, with some important new works, but also lots of important new information about and new ways to explore many of the works.
Quite a set of accomplishments. As always, however, we hope and believe that the most significant result of the program is the additional learning, experience, and exposure gained by the interns themselves, both in the traditional art field and in the various new technologies that are becoming ever more important to that field as it “goes digital.” One of the most gratifying parts of the summer intern program has been hearing back from past interns who tell us how useful it has proven in their ongoing careers.
We have always felt that one of the key goals of Art Authority is making a difference at the intersection of the technology and art worlds. We are very proud of the fact that this difference is made not only directly through our apps, but also through other related efforts such as our community site and the summer intern program.
Here’s looking forward to year 5!
The heart of Art Authority for iPad is its 70,000-work, nine-room virtual museum. “Patrons” of the museum have been known to literally spend days “wandering” through the app’s professionally designed period-specific rooms. While they’ve been doing so, we’ve also been hard at work on improvements to those rooms (unlike a real museum, we don’t ever have to close in the process). And we’re now excited to be announcing and rolling our big museum upgrade..
The 2014 Art Authority for iPad museum upgrade is both functional and aesthetic. The first thing you might notice is that in each period room there is a new directory, replacing the previous artist list. This directory is similar to the one that has always been located in the lobby. Like that directory, it lets you browse and search by artist, title, subject, or location.
The lobby directory has always been for the museum as a whole. Each of the new room directories lets you browse and search just within that room. So if you’re in the Renaissance room for example, you can view all Renaissance works that come from the Louvre. Or you can search in the Baroque room for all works entitled “Last Supper.”
Not only do the rooms work better, but they look better too. We’ve upgraded the wallpaper and added new adornments to many of the rooms. Under iOS 7, we’ve also added subtle but cool 3-D motion effects.
The combination of all these enhancements makes for an even more immersive art exploration experience. Check them all out in Art Authority for iPad 4.9.2, available today through the App Store.
2013 was a great year for Art Authority and Art Authority users. We added a large number of works to the “collection,” as well as a large number of features to the app. So many, in fact, that Apple named Art Authority for iPad as one of the Best New Apps of the year:
And that despite the app being three-and-a-half years old, having shipped at the same time as the first iPad, April 3, 2010!
Here’s a quick summary of the major goings-on from 2013:
Not bad for a new app So here’s to 2013, and to what we have to look forward to in 2014 as well!
Art Authority for iPad now includes access to Internet-based videos for over 500 of its major works. Wrapping up a year’s worth of new features, Art Authority for iPad 4.9.1 provides the ability to view short, information-packed videos about the works, their environment, historic context and more. Many of the videos are produced by the museums in which the actual works hang, as well as by Khan Academy and other educational institutions.
Works with available videos display a new video button in their information plaque. Tapping that button downloads and brings the video up full-screen. Internet access and at least iOS 6 are required to view the videos.
The main directory also includes an option to view a show that includes all works from the Art Authority database that have an associated video. And each room’s Overview section includes a similar show for works in that room’s period. So if you want to browse all the videos associated with works from the Renaissance, it’s really easy to do (there are currently over 160 such videos).
Videos are also available in Art Authority K-12 for iPad, for age-appropriate works.
Art Authority for iPad 4.9 is now available through the App Store, with enhancements for iOS 7. These subtle but significant improvements have earned it selection as a Best New App on the App Store this week.
Most of the changes are in look-and-feel, such as addition of iOS 7′s transparent status bar at the top of windows, making each room a bit more spacious. A number of the user interface elements, such as the popovers, also have a more iOS 7 style to them. In particular the main and other directories.
The most noticeable and functional enhancement to Art Authority for iPad is AirDrop support under iOS 7. AirDrop lets you easily share images from Art Authority with your closest friends, where in this case “close” refers to the distance to their iOS 7 device, and “friends” can mean anyone who’s nearby, or anyone nearby and in your contacts list. One nice thing is that your friends don’t even have to be running Art Authority; the image ends up going to their Photos app. And you can share with multiple friends at the same time.
To share images through Art Authority for iPad 4.9 (on any iOS), view the image full-screen and then tap the new Sharing button (which has replaced the gear button at the bottom left). The standard iOS “sharing” popover comes up (on iOS 6 or later), and includes previous ways of sharing the image: through the Photos app, Twitter and Facebook. But new ways are there as well, including AirDrop if your iPad is AirDrop-capable. Even if your device doesn’t support AirDrop, you still get new ways of sharing, such as Mail, Copy and even Print.
AirDrop is part of what has been a continuing evolution of sharing support in iOS, and in Art Authority. iOS 5 added sharing through Twitter, iOS 6 sharing through Facebook, and iOS 7 now generalizes sharing to include other social networks and AirDrop. And of course there’s our community site, community.artauthority.net. As the world gets more connected, so does Art Authority!
Art Authority’s president, Alan Oppenheimer, and his wife Priscilla just got back from a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area. Combining business with pleasure, they presented the company’s wares at the Pitch 2013 startup show at AT&T Park, met with the foremost authority on Jan Brueghel the Elder at Berkeley, met with representatives of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco about the National Docent Symposium they’re hosting next month (more on that later), and saw the Diebenkorn and “Impressionists on the Water” exhibits at the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor respectively.
They also had a real life dinner with two of the participants in this year’s Summer Intern Program. We pride ourselves in the worldwide reach of our apps and our programs. The Art Authority database includes works from nearly a thousand museums and other art sites, our Art Authority apps bring that art to users around the world, our Art Alert app helps bring users around the world to that art. And our intern program this year included interns from as far east as the United Kingdom and as far west as New Zealand. We feel great about the difference we’re making worldwide. But every so often it’s really nice to just be able to sit down with people in real life and have dinner!
As you may have heard, Art Authority was featured in an article on “Applied Reading” in the New York Times Book Review last Sunday. The article begins by pointing out how “electronic textbooks” are “more effective” as learning tools than traditional paper-based solutions:
“Who wants merely… to squint at a tiny printed reproduction of a still life by Pieter Claesz — an artist who was sharing pictures of food centuries before Instagram was invented — instead of popping open a full-screen version to better study the composition?”
The article serves as a perfect example of its own point. In the print (“treeware”) version of the Times, the article includes, quite literally, “a tiny printed reproduction of a still life by Pieter Claesz” (as shown in Art Authority for iPad).
There is a fundamental defect in the printed version of the paper however, which prevents you from “popping open a full-screen version to better study the composition.” You can however do this in the online version of the article (and as part of this post as well). And of course you do it even better in the app itself.
The fact that an electronic version of a Book Review article is fundamentally better than a print version of the same article is certainly a sign of the Times. As we think is Art Authority. Thank you New York Times for making your (and our) point so well!