Last week I was in the city of love and culture, Paris. My wife and I had decided to head to the French capital for a few days for a break away from the office and a chance to take in sights and sounds of the city. Fear not though, faithful reader, I’m not about to walk you through our holiday snaps, instead I want to tell you about what I found at The Louvre.
The Louvre is the most visited art museum in the world, with 8.5m visitors each year. It holds nearly 400,000 objects, including the largest collection of Egyptian artefacts outside of Cairo, and with that kind of scale navigating its galleries can be interesting. Some tourists may opt for the traditional paper map, but I tried their very modern alternative.
Almost a year after the launch of Nintendo’s depth loving console, I was wandering round the hallways of France’s premier museum with a 3DS strapped round my neck, listening as the narrator filled me in on the grave goods associated with the Upper Nile. A tap of the screen here and I’d get a further titbit of knowledge, a swipe there and I’d be able to check where a certain exhibit was, my inner Nintendo fanboy was grinning inanely.
At first I was simply taken in by the novelty of the proposal: using a portable games console instead of an audio guide. The more I used it however the more it became apparent that this was more than just an interesting promotional tie in. There are similar apps for other museums for the iPhone and alike, but the unique properties of the 3DS made this particular app a little more special.
The dual screen for one was fantastic. As per normal for many adventure games on the system, one screen was a dedicated map for the most part, keeping track of which gallery you were in. The other then highlighted the various exhibits of note, allowing you tap for further information and images. It may sound silly that the guide would show you images of what you were already looking at, but given the sheer quantity of objects on display I treated this that I was indeed being told about tableaux X rather than Y.
Also, the local wi-fi constantly updated your position, meaning you were never lost and more importantly always meant your machine was showing you what was in front of you rather than a few rooms back. This same network was also apparently updated on the fly, blocking out rooms that were closed for maintenance and offering guided tours of temporary exhibitions.
It was an extremely lightweight app and very intuitive, showing what can be achieved when you keep a clear goal and don’t over complicate matters. For all museums and galleries attempting to update their multimedia projects, this goes to show that often simplicity is key. Just because your device has extra gadgetry and spare capacity does not mean you always have to use it, as most of the quality came in the content that it presented.