Art lovers can stay at home and enjoy Aberdeen Art Gallery

Virtual visitors to Aberdeen Art Gallery can enjoy 50 highlights from the collection on a digital tour launched today (Friday April 17) thanks to an award-winning social enterprise that helps people make meaningful connections with art.

Named by the New Scientist as “Shazam and Spotify for art”, the Smartify app is an art guide that identifies 2D and 3D artworks in participating venues. On-site visitors can scan an artwork with their smartphone and the app provides instant information on it.

For visitors off-site – as everyone is during the current Covid-19 pandemic – Smartify’s powerful search facility uses location and personal preferences to offer users thoughtfully curated stories and tours, such as the one offered from today by Aberdeen Art Gallery.

The Discover Aberdeen Art Gallery tour includes images and descriptions of 50 artworks, with audio descriptions by staff for selected works, providing accessible and informal insights into many aspects of the varied collection, including drawings, paintings, sculpture, decorative art and jewellery. Artworks featured in the tour include the fascinating Macdonald collection of artists portraits with audio by Madeline Ward, Lead Curator of Art; and High Tide, A Winter Afternoon, painted at Catterline by Joan Eardley, in 1958, with an audio by Ruth Kent, Performance and Events Officer.

Since the 1st of March Smartify reports a huge change in how people are using the app with most users now accessing audio and video tours from home. Of an audience of over one million users, over 91% are now listening to tours at home rather than in the physical museum.

An Aberdeen City Council spokesperson said, “Aberdeen Art Gallery had been due to introduce a new regular tour for visitors in April, called Discover Aberdeen Art Gallery. It’s fantastic that the team has been able to respond to the Covid-19 situation and find a new way of delivering this activity for people in Aberdeen and across the world.

“Anyone with the Smartify app will be able to experience the highlights of Aberdeen’s exceptional art collection from the comfort and safety of their owns homes. More than ever, the experience and enjoyment of art can play an important part in maintaining our wellbeing.”

Anna Lowe, Co-founder of the Smartify app, said, “Smartify originated from a genuine passion for art, and the curiosity to find out more when first encountering a great artwork whether in a museum or at home.

“Smartify tours offer innovative new ways for visitors to explore iconic works from their own homes whilst continuing to support the work of the incredible institutions.

“We are delighted that Aberdeen Art Gallery has taken up our offer of complimentary use of the platform’s mobile tour function for up to 50 artworks.”

The National Lottery Heritage Fund invested £10million in the recent transformation of Aberdeen Art Gallery. The Fund’s Scotland Director, Caroline Clark, said: “With visitors figures before the pandemic surpassing all expectations, it is clear that people are eager to see the incredible works of art that Aberdeen Art Gallery houses. Well done to the team for keeping the doors to their outstanding national collection open through Smartify. These virtual tours are a wonderful way of exploring the world of art while staying safely at home.”

Allowing people to virtually visit world class exhibitions from home, Smartify is available to download for free from the App Store and Google Play.

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