Mobile app makes finding GV art easy

Briana Doolan

After 150 downloads, more than 500 visits and more than 2,800 page views, it is safe to say the new Art at GVSU mobile app is a success. The free mobile iPhone app provides access to more than 10,000 pieces of art in the Grand Valley State University’s collection.

The Art at GVSU app project has been a collaboration between the GVSU Art Gallery, the School of Computing and Information Systems and Collective Access, a collection management software system that is widely adopted by galleries world-wide.

Nathan Kelmer, who works for the art gallery, came to GVSU in 2008. He said he knew right away that the school needed to increase accessibility to the university’s art collection.

“Thus I implemented the art online collection,” Kelmer said. “This online collection serves as the base from which everything else could be created from. After that, it was really a group effort that led to the idea of an art app.”

He said they wanted to better engage the community.

“It became clear that we needed to take advantage of the mobile opportunities,” Kelmer said.

The app was built by students in the Mobile Applications and Services Lab in GVSU’s School of Computing and Information Systems under the direction of associate professor Jonathan Engelsma. The app is the sixth product developed in the lab. Andres Solano, a graduate student from Colombia, built the majority of the app, as his master’s project.

“The primary purpose of the app is to raise visibility and appreciation for the wonderful art collection we have here at GVSU by giving the community more ways to discover and interact with the collection,” Engelsma said. “The current version of the application supports a series of indoor and outdoor virtual art tours and various ways to browse and search the collection.”

The app includes art tours of the Allendale and Pew campuses. Users can also browse or search art collections on any of the five campuses, including Holland, Muskegon and Traverse City. The browse feature on the larger Pew and Allendale Campuses provides building-by-building access. The search function allows users to enter the artist by name or the ID number of any artwork.

“Our hope for the app is to use it to encourage appreciation and understanding of art and its role in society through direct engagement with original works of art, which is part of our department’s mission statement,” Kelmer said. “I think this project will be successful because we are harnessing a growing technological resource. We are building this app as flexible and forward-thinking as possible, knowing that technology can change fast. All of the information we creating sits in one place and can be pulled out through many different windows.

The app also allows users to share favorite works and also share links to them via Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

“This app will allow for both direct and indirect learning styles,” Kelmer said. “We want people to use the app in whichever way they want. By making the art collection more accessible and engaging, we hope it will be easier and more efficient for our community at GVSU to utilize it.”

The app currently is available for the iPhone, iPad and the iPod Touch. Currently, designers are working on creating an Android version and hope to have it available in May of this year.

Art at GVSU is available in the iTunes store.

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