Museums embrace tours via cell phone

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant “I generally don’t buy the audio tours when I go to a museum unless it’s a Monet or somebody really impressive,” said Chris Mengarelli, 53, who used her phone to tour the exhibit “Visual Politics: The Art of Engagement” at the San Jose Museum of Art. “It was much more convenient than having to rent a headset and worrying about what kind of germs are being transmitted,” said Mengarelli, of San Jose. Museums have been making audio tours available over cell phones since at least 2002, when Southern Utah University opened an exhibit of historical photos documenting 100 years of local theater. Matt Nickerson, a professor of library science, wrote the script and taped old actors recalling their performances in Shakespearean plays. He recruited an actor and engineer to record and mix the audio tour at a radio station. “It turned out to be much simpler than I thought,” he said. Using the services is as easy as dialing a number and selecting the code that corresponds to the piece a visitor is viewing. At least one tour, offered at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, responded to voice commands, but museum officials there discontinued the feature because it encouraged too much chatter. SAN FRANCISCO – Art lovers, history buffs and science devotees, take note: to get the most of your next museum visit, you may want to bring your cell phone. Not to gab on, of course, but to listen to audio tours that weave music, narration and recordings from historical archives designed to bring more context to the exhibitions. For many visitors, it comes as a welcome alternative to the decades-old system of museums renting out expensive handheld devices. Museums across the country, once averse to noisy cell phones, are suddenly encouraging their use. In the past year, about a dozen – including museums in Los Angeles, Berkeley, Tacoma, Wash., Minneapolis and Greenwich, Conn. – have begun offering cell phone tours, mostly for free. Dozens more are in the process of implementing the service. One reason for the surge is the emergence of companies such as Guide by Cell of San Francisco and Ashburn, Va.-based Spatial Adventures Inc., which run servers and phone systems so museums don’t have to. For now, most museums offer cell phone audio for free, although users must pay roaming charges or other costs that apply to their cell phone plan. Museums are able to give away the service because Guide by Cell and other companies, living off investor financing, aren’t charging as they try to jump-start the trend. “When we have to pay, or someone has to pay, we may have to change things,” said Suzanne Isken, director of education at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, which started using Guide by Cell audio for one of its exhibits in January. The chief benefit of cell phones is their ubiquity. With almost 204 million Americans carrying a cell phone, according to industry group CTIA – The Wireless Association, museums no longer have to maintain fleets of handheld devices. Isken estimated her museum will spend $20,000 just to pay the staff that checks out, cleans and recharges the dedicated devices it will use for an upcoming exhibit on the work of artist Robert Rauschenberg. The staffing costs are in addition to rental fees for the units and other costs, she said. Cell phones also make it easy for visitors who have decided to skip the audio tour to spontaneously change their minds. “You don’t have to go back to the desk and rent something,” said Robin Dowden, director of new media initiatives at the Walker Art Center. Not all museums are embracing the trend. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is studying cell phone audio tours but has decided to hold off for now. Instead, it offers audio files that visitors can download from the museum Web site and play on their iPod or other portable music player while viewing exhibits. “Just because you have a phone in your hand and can call up a message about every piece in a gallery doesn’t mean those messages are going to be engaging,” said Peter Samis, associate curator of education at the museum. “Museums themselves are relative novices at this and don’t have any experience producing this type of content in-house,” he said. “There’s a steeper learning curve than many proselytizers of the technology are willing to acknowledge.” Mengarelli, the San Jose resident, confessed to finding some portions of the audio tour “distracting.” She also complained that her arm got tired holding a cell phone to her ear for 30 minutes. Still, the San Jose Museum of Art’s experiment with cell phone audio has already changed the way some visitors take in art. Ben Patel, a 29-year-old hotel worker who arrived just before closing time one day last week, quickly snapped pictures of the images on his digital camera, so he could view them later on his computer while listening to the narration on his phone. “It’s a good idea,” he said. “I’m short on time and the museum will be shut before I can view all of them.” On the Net: San Jose Museum of Art: http// Guide By Cell: 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Chase begins for Stewart, Busch

first_img Stewart has to be considered a favorite to win the New Hampshire race this time around. Busch won both New Hampshire races last year. And the year before that, Jimmie Johnson won both New Hampshire races. Stewart’s New Hampshire victory in July was part of his summer surge, when he won five races between June 26 and Aug. 14 and took over the points lead. He remembers having a car at New Hampshire that needed time to get traction on long runs, but also was able to pass cars early in the race. “But in the middle and latter stages of the race, the guys got their cars better and it got to where our car really wasn’t that strong,” Stewart said. “And for six or seven laps, it would take that long for it to get a lot of grip and lock down. But early in the race we could get by guys until they got their cars better. As the day went on, we had a lot of good track position and that helped us.” Those gaps in performance allowed the Busch boys to catch Stewart at New Hampshire. “So it was in that six- or seven-lap window where we just didn’t have as much grip as we needed,” Stewart said. “But once our tires came in, we were able to track Kurt down after that last restart and get by.” Kurt Busch actually is in better position in this Chase than he was last year. Not only is Busch fifth in points – opposed to seventh last year – he also has his four Roush Racing teammates in the Chase. Penske Racing South teammates Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman are the only other drivers who can say that. Not that Wallace and Newman have acted much like teammates at all this year. The other three Chase contenders are racing solo. Stewart’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Bobby Labonte missed the Chase. Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates, including four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon, missed the Chase. Jeremy Mayfield, in. His Evernham Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, out. Still, one is better than none. Just ask Teresa Earnhardt, Richard Childress and Robert Yates. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Mayfield sits seventh in the Chase, the same spot from which Kurt Busch started his championship run. Tim Haddock covers motor sports for the Daily News. His column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at (818) 713-2715 or NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES Sylvania 300 Site: Loudon, N.H. Schedule: Saturday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 9:10 a.m.); Sunday, race (TNT, 9:30 a.m.). Track: New Hampshire International Speedway (oval, 1.058 miles, 12 degrees banking in turns). Race distance: 317.4 miles, 300 laps. Next race: MBNA 400, Sept. 25, Dover, Del. On the Net: NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCKS SERIES Sylvania 200 Site: Loudon, N.H. Schedule: Saturday, qualifying, 7:05 a.m., race (Speed Channel, noon). Track: New Hampshire International Speedway (oval, 1.058 miles, 12 degrees banking in turns). Race distance: 211.6 miles, 200 laps. Next race: Las Vegas 350, Sept. 24. NHRA NHRA Nationals Site: Reading, Pa. Schedule: Friday, qualifying, 11 a.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 8 a.m (ESPN2, 1 p.m.); Sunday, eliminations, 8 a.m. (ESPN2, 1 p.m.) Track: Maple Grove Raceway. Next event: O’Reilly Fall Nationals, Sept. 25, Ennis, Texas. On the Net: 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! If Tony Stewart can repeat his performance in the July race at New Hampshire International Speedway, he may be able to see the forest through the Busches. The forest in this case being the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series championship. And the Busches being the brothers, Kurt and Kyle, who seemed to be Stewart’s biggest challengers when the Cup drivers visited New Hampshire during the summer. “It seemed like Kyle Busch was able to stay with us longer on every restart,” said Stewart, who won the July race at New Hampshire. “Then at the end of the day, both of the Busch (brothers) – the shrub and the bigger Busch (Kurt) – were both good enough to stay with us. Kyle was almost good enough to get by, and Kurt actually got by.” center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Stewart enters Sunday’s race at New Hampshire, the start of the 10-race Chase for the Championship, as the Chase leader. He has a five-point lead over Greg Biffle and a 45-point leader over Ryan Newman, the 10th-place driver in the Chase. If history is any indication, the winner of the New Hampshire race will have a marked advantage in the Chase. Last year, Kurt Busch won the New Hampshire race, vaulted from seventh to first, and went on to win his first Cup championship. The New Hampshire race was Busch’s only win in the Chase for the Championship. Busch compared taking the early lead in the Chase to a golf tournament. “If you start off and you’re 4-under or 5-under, the other guys are waffling around with a bogey and a par, they’re not going to catch you,” said Busch. “It’s up to the leader to make those mistakes. We did have a big mistake, though, at Atlanta with the motor blowing up. That took away our solid advantage. So when you have a bad race early on. it’s just that much more difficult to overcome later.” Without Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Jeff Gordon in the Chase, Stewart and Kurt Busch may be the biggest stars in the NASCAR 10-race playoff. last_img read more