Local museums create text-message tours

    Text-messaging behind the wheel of a car is illegal in Philadelphia, but some area museums encourage texting in their galleries.

    Text-messaging behind the wheel of a car is illegal in Philadelphia, but some area museums encourage texting in their galleries. Visitors to the Arthur Ross Gallery and the Abington Arts Center can play text-message games while wandering the exhibits. Museums hope to snare visitors minds, 160 characters at a time.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090928pctext.mp3]

    It can either be a scavenger hunt, or as kind of Quizzo. You recieve a text that asks you something. You find the answer, and text your reply. The computerized texter then rewards you with another question.

    Pretty simple, and also very flexible. The texting game can be custom-tailored to an art exhibit, a sculpture garden, or a science center. Heather Rutledge of the Abington Art Center has set it up for the 27-acre sculpture park.

    Rutledge: The museum educator in me has the opportunity to slip in facts about sculpture or about the artist. But it was a real challenge to boil down the basic concepts we wanted to pass along in 160 characters.

    It’s also inexpensive. The system costs the institution about $400 dollars for six months. But there is a cost to the user – up to 15 cents for every text, depending on the phone plan.

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