Similng Spider (Araigée souriante), 1881, Musée d'Orsay (conserved at the Louvre)

Paris Museums using “Apps” for Audio Guides

Similng Spider (Araigée souriante), 1881, Musée d'Orsay (conserved at the Louvre)Look for Paris museums to use phone applications (apps) for their audio guides more frequently. As an amateur art critic, I am a big fan of audio guides. They provide in-depth background information on exhibition selections. They make you visit more efficient if you are short on time.

The availability of languages depends on the exhibit or the museum. Generally, the museum’s audio guides for children are only available in French.

Downloading an application offers several benefits: use your own headsets and phone/mp3 player for the visit; re-listen to the highlights again as often as you like and pretend you were there. The price might be cheaper for the download than the museum’s audio guide.

This was the case at the Grand Palais during a recent exhibit. The Grand Palais offered a special price of 2.99 euros instead of renting their audio guide for five euros. I was able to download the application through iTunes  using the Grand Palais’s WiFi. It was available only on their ground floor and was handy because I had not downloaded the app at home. This particular exhibit, Odilon Redon,  offered a separate application called “Odilon’s little monsters” (in French and in English) for children. The applications are good for either the iPhone or iPad. Since the children’s app was a game with information, it is better viewed on a tablet.

The application is not a one-time thing. If available, it can still be downloaded after the exhibit closes. These apps are easy to refer back to after you have visited the exhibition. I have referred several times to the exhibit’s art selections and am now playing around with the children’s little monster’s application.

Check each museum before your visit for audio guide information. Not all museums offer a downloadable audio guide. Not all offer guides through iTunes. Some have a download specific to their museum on their individual Web sites.

Grand Palais/Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN)

Recommendation for the audio guide
You have numerous alternatives to use an audio guide for exhibits at the Grand Palais:
1) Rent an audio guide at the museum for five euros in various languages.
2) Download the application for your iPad or phone at the museum using their WiFi connection.
3) Buy and download ahead of time the application from iTunes.

All of the audio guides are produced by the same company that works with the Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN). If you download the audio guide from the RMN Web site and have any problems, call the phone number and someone will help you who speaks English. (I had a problem, they sent me the link for the download when I gave them my payment confirmation number.)

The museum’s audio guide players is easy to use and you drop it off when you are finished.

The downloaded audio guide works well when the paintings are in front of you. It is yours to re-listen as often as you like.

The advantage with the iPhone application is the image and the accompanying number. Instead of looking for the number on the wall, you can spot the image. When you want to re-listen later on, the image is on your phone and serves as a search reference. The iPad application is more advanced because it provides text information.

Using smartphone/tablet applications to visit Paris museums

Want to use a baby stroller in a Paris museum? Baby’tems has a few suggestions which museums can help your visit.

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