Technology is everywhere these days, including museums, historic sites, and historical societies. One of the ways public historians are using new technologies is with smartphone-based apps. Software downloaded onto cell phones is increasingly guiding visitors through museums, historic sites, and neighborhoods. These programs offer new options for learning and interpretation. They offer a more interactive and self-directed experience than traditional interpretive formats. While the jury is still out on how effective and popular they will be, there’s no doubt that they’re becoming a major part of the field. More and more, savvy historians are turning to apps as a way to get historical information to interested parties and invite historical study.
One of the newest historical apps to hit the market features Old Louisville, Louisville’s signature collection of late-nineteenth-century domestic and institutional architecture. Created by Surto Media, this app provides information about over 400 sites and four walking tours. It also features a detailed history of St. James Court, more than 600 photographs, and information about the historical styles and types represented.
I have not had a chance to play with the app, but it sounds like a fantastic way to guide people through historic neighborhoods. Although traditional walking tours have always been popular, self-directed tours based on smartphone apps have the potential to create a significantly richer, more informative experience. If you’ve used the Old Louisville! app, please let us know. We’d like to know what you like about it and how it’s helped you explore.
The link to the app on Apple’s iTunes site is here