Posted on October 5, 2013 AT 10:01am
Last week, when on my honeymoon, I visited acclaimed art museum The Louvre. As a huge video game fan, when I passed the audio guide desk, I did a double-take. On a giant sign plastered behind the counter was a giant picture of a 3DS XL. Naturally, I was curious about how a 3DS could guide me through the art of the French museum, so I put some money down and checked one out. What I found was the best experience with an audio guide I’ve had and a example that more locations should follow.
When you first boot up the audio guide, it gives you an overview its of the features. Obviously, it plays audio tracks relating to specific pieces of art, but the specific features of the 3DS offer a host of other opportunities to make it an even better guide.
One feature that tended to be a bit hit or miss with the guide was the location-tracking. On the touch screen, a map of the museum was displayed by default. As you move, it tracks your location and displays icons on the screen if there are audio tracks for any nearby pieces. This made it fantastic to just walk around and open up the 3DS to see what paintings in a given room had more info. In addition, if you knew exactly what you were looking for, you can search out a specific piece of art and the guide will lead you there. This is where it got a little iffy. The location tracking, though mostly good, can sometimes take a little time to update and got me a bit lost on a couple of occasions.
One really unfortunate reality of going to a museum is that sometimes a piece of art is unavailable. Whether it’s being restored or on loan to another location, it’s still a major bummer that can’t be avoided. The 3DS guide changes all this using the 3D visuals of the handheld console. If a piece of art is not available, they’ve created 3D representations that you can scroll around at will on the screen on the device. Sure, it’s not the same as seeing it in person, but when the alternative is not seeing it at all, it’s nice to have that reference while hearing the audio track.
Most audio guides really don’t go much farther than being an iPod Shuffle. This really pigeonholes you into following a very specific path in your museum experience. The extraordinary thing that the 3DS accomplishes at The Louvre is that it frees up the experience and allows you to explore at your own pace. Beyond that, having done more than a few audio guides while I was on my honeymoon, it was one of the cheaper guides I’ve ever used. So, if you find yourself at the most famous art museum in France, do yourself a favor and strap on a 3DS. It’s worth every penny and drastically improves the experience.
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