Make Your Own Medieval Memes with a New Tool from the Dutch National Library

As much joy as internet memes have given you over the years, you may have struggled to explain them to those unfamiliar with the concept. But if you’ve found it a tall order to articulate the power of found images crudely overlaid with text to, say, your parents, imagine attempting to do the same to an ancestor from the fourteenth century. Introducing memes to a medieval person, the best strategy would presumably be to begin not with sardonic Willy Wonka, the guy distracted by another girl, or The Most Interesting Man in the World, but memes with familiar medieval imagery. Thanks to KB, the national library of the Netherlands, you can now make some of you own with ease.

“On visitors can use images taken from the Dutch national library’s medieval collection and turn them into memes,” says “When using the meme generator, people actively create new contexts for these historic images by adding current captions. The available images are accompanied by explanatory videos, providing viewers with background information and showing them that, much like today, people in the Middle Ages used images to comment on their surroundings and current affairs.” You might repurpose these lively pieces of medieval art for such twenty-first-century topics as clubbing, online shopping, or the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the top of this post appears an image from 1327, originally created for a book of miracles King Charles IV ordered for his queen. As KB explains, it offers “a warning of what can happen if you don’t learn your prayers properly.” Below that is “a sort of Mediaeval cartoon” from 1183 about the techniques involved in properly slaughtering a pig. And just above, we see what happened when “the Kenite Jael lured the leader of the army, Sisera, into her tent. Sisera had been violently oppressing the Kenites for 20 years. While he slept, she whacked a tent peg straight through his head.” Though created for a picture Bible 592 years ago, this picture surely has potential for transposition into commentary on the very different perils of life in the twenty-twenties. But when you deploy it as a meme, you can do so in the knowledge that even your medieval forebears would have known that feel.


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Why Knights Fought Snails in Illuminated Medieval Manuscripts

800 Illuminated Medieval Manuscripts Are Now Online: Browse & Download Them Courtesy of the British Library and Bibliothèque Nationale de France

160,000 Pages of Glorious Medieval Manuscripts Digitized: Visit the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis

The Aberdeen Bestiary, One of the Great Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts, Now Digitized in High Resolution & Made Available Online

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Depths of Wikipedia: Enjoy a Compendium of the Online Encyclopedia’s Most Bizarre Pages

@depthsofwikipedia If the authorities kill me for making this tiktok just know I loved you guys #learnontiktok #tiktokpartner ♬ original sound – Annie Rauwerda

What’s your stance on Wikipedia, the free, open content online encyclopedia?

Students are often discouraged or disallowed from citing Wikipedia as a source, a bias that a Wikipedia entry titled “Wikipedia should not be considered a definitive source in and of itself” supports:

As a user-generated source, it can be edited by anyone at any time, and any information it contains at a particular time could be vandalism, a work in progress, or simply incorrect. Biographies of living persons, subjects that happen to be in the news, and politically or culturally contentious topics are especially vulnerable to these issues…because Wikipedia is a volunteer-run project, it cannot constantly monitor every contribution. There are many errors that remain unnoticed for hours, days, weeks, months, or even years.

(Another entry counsels those who would persist to cite the exact time, date, and article version they are referencing.)

Wikipedia has a clearly stated policy prohibiting contributors from close paraphrasing or outright copying and pasting from outside sources, though in a bit of a circle-in-a-circle situation, several noted authors and journalists have been caught plagiarizing Wikipedia articles.

A list of Wikipedia controversies, published on – where else? – Wikipedia is a hair raising litany of political sabotage, character assassination, and “revenge edits”. (The list is currently substantiated by 338 reference links, and has been characterized as in need of update since October 2021, owing to a lack of edits regarding the “controversy about Mainland Chinese editors.”)

It can be a pretty scary place, but University of Michigan senior Annie Rauwerda, creator of the Instagram account Depths of Wikipedia is unfazed. As she wrote in an article for the tech publication Input:

Wikipedia is a splendidly extensive record of almost everything that matters; a modern-day Library of Alexandria that’s free, accessible, and dynamic. But Wikipedia is characterized not only by what it is but also by what it is not. It’s not a soapbox, a battleground, nor a blog.

It’s also becoming famous as Rauwerda’s playground, or more accurately, a packed swap shop in which millions of bizarre items are tucked away.

If your schedule limits the amount time you can spend down its myriad rabbit holes, Rauwerda will do the digging for you.

Turning a selection of Wikipedia excerpts into a collage for a friend’s quaran-zine inspired her to keep the party going with screenshots of oddball entries posted to a dedicated Instagram account.

Her followers don’t seem to care whether a post contains an image or not, though the neuroscience major finds that emotional, short or animal-related posts generate the most excitement. “I used to post more things that were conceptual,” she told Lithium Magazine,  “like mind-blowing physics concepts, but those didn’t lend themselves to Instagram as well since they require a few minutes of thinking and reading.”

The bulk of what she posts come to her as reader submissions, though in a pinch, she can always turn to the “holy grail” – Wikipedia’s own list of unusual articles.

In addition to Instagram, her discoveries find their way into an infrequently published newsletter, and onto TikTok and Twitter, where some of our recent faves include the definition of humster, a list of games that Buddha would not play, and the Paul O’Sullivan Band, “an internationally based, pop-rock band consisting of four members, all of whom are named Paul O’Sullivan.”

Along the way, she has found ways to give back, co-hosting a virtual edit-a-thon and bringing some genuine glamour to a livestreamed Wikipedia trivia contest.

And she recently authored a serious article for Slate about Russians scrambling to download a 29-gigabyte file containing Russian-language Wikipedia after the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) threatened to block it over content related to the invasion of Ukraine.

(You can read more about how that’s going on Wikipedia…)

Submit a link to Wikipedia page for possible inclusion on the Depths of Wikipedia here.

Follow Annie Rauwinda’s Depths of Wikipedia on Instagram and TikTok.

via NYTimes

Related Content 

Listen to Wikipedia: A Web Site That Turns Every Wikipedia Edit Into Ambient Music in Real Time

Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Listen to Wikipedia: A Web Site That Turns Every Wikipedia Edit Into Ambient Music in Real Time

Wikipedia turned 20 years old this past January. Do you remember how you first heard of it? Or more to the point, do you remember when you actually started clicking on it when it came up in your search results? For me, Wikipedia first proved an essential resource for learning about music: on it I looked up my favorite bands, then found my way to entries about all the people, events, places, and things associated with them. (I then truly felt what it meant to go down an internet “rabbit hole.”) Having been intrigued by, for instance, the music of Brian Eno, I discovered through Wikipedia the world of ambient music, of which Eno’s work constitutes only one part.

Two decades on, Wikipedia itself has become ambient music. Listen to Wikipedia, writes co-creator Mahmoud Hashemi, “is a real-time auralization of Wikipedia growing, one edit at a time. The site is literally self-explanatory.” Even so, at that linked blog post Hashemi and his fellow developer Stephen LaPorte explain that “Bells are additions, strings are subtractions.”

Smaller edits sound higher ones, and larger edits lower ones. “There’s something reassuring about knowing that every user makes a noise, every edit has a voice in the roar. (Green circles are anonymous edits and purple circles are bots. White circles are brought to you by Registered Users Like You.)”

It all sounds a bit like — and looks even more like — Eno’s “generative music” apps. But Listen to Wikipedia adds a considerable verbal and intellectual dimension, labeling each edit that bubbles up with the name of the relevant page. Kawaii metal. Year of the Fifth Coalition. Tom Brady. Lee County, Texas. Do You Like Hitchcock? Justin Bieber discography. Geography of Gaelic games. California Democratic Party. Basketball at the 1988 Summer Olympics – Men’s tournament. All these names arose and vanished within about a minute’s viewing, as did many others of more deeply tantalizing obscurity. If you feel tempted to look them all up on Wikipedia itself, count yourself among those of us who’ve known, for twenty years now, where the internet’s real potential for addition lies. Explore Listen to Wikipedia here.

h/t @pbkauf

Related Content:

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

A New Collection of Official, Authorized Prince GIFs!

Tech entrepreneur Anil Dash, podcaster, music historian, and advisor to the Obama White House’s Office of Digital Strategy, knows his way around Prince’s catalogue.

Less than a year after the iconoclastic musician left the planet, Dash created a guide to help newbies and casual listeners become better acquainted with his oeuvre:

The nice thing about Prince’s work is that there are no bad starting points; if you don’t like what you hear at first, he almost certainly made a song in the complete opposite style as well.

He assembled playlists for the Prince-resistant, reeling ‘em in by catering to various tastes, from “riff-driven rock tracks” and electronica to “Prince for Redbone fans.”

(Those playlists are also a great service to those of us whose attention wandered in the decades following Prince’s 80’s heyday.)

Dash has also now done us a solid and highlighted an official archive of high-quality Prince GIFs, taken from his music videos.

Prince was notoriously protective of his image, and wild as it is, the GIF archive, a collaboration with GIPHY, Paisley Park and Prince’s estate, colors within those lines by steering clear of unflattering reaction shots culled from interviews, live performances, or public appearances.

There’s still a broad range of attitudes on display, though best get out of line if you’re looking for an expression that conveys “lack of confidence” or “the opposite of sexy.”

The archive is arranged by album. Click on a song title and you’ll find a number of moments drawn from its official music video.

Any captions come straight from the horse’s mouth. No backseat caption jockeys can has cheezburger with Prince Rogers Nelson’s image, thank you very much.

Begin your explorations of the Prince GIF Archive here.

via Kottke

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Ayun Halliday always stood at the back of the line, a smile beneath her nose. Ayun is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  See her onstage in New York City in February as host of  Theater of the Apes book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The Joy of Experiencing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody for the Very First Time: Watch Three Reaction Videos

Remember when you first encountered Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”?

I suspect many of us don’t. It’s not the Kennedy assassination. Nor does it take long for Freddy Mercury’s soaring vocals and monumental lyrics to leach into the blood stream, creating the impression that we were born knowing every note, every word, every staggering transition…

(Note to those unfamiliar with this impossible to categorize 1975 masterpiece: Go give it a listen RIGHT NOW, while the rest of us wait for you here. Here’s the official video. But first, set up whatever equipment you need to film your reaction in real time, as Pennsylvania based YouTuber AFRO REACT, does above.)

He’ll definitely remember where he was when he first heard this wonderful, seminal song, as will over 1000 viewers, most of whom gave him an encouraging thumbs up.

So what if he mispronounces both “bohemian” and “rhapsody”?  That he’s unclear whether Queen is the name of the singer or the band? He can cringe later…or not. Such documented boo boos may be a generational hazard, the way crimped and moussed 80s hair was for mine.

(I was surprised, and grateful, that neither he, nor any of the video reaction masters featured today, sniped at the ridiculous coiffures of the artists they were watching.)

Perhaps AFRO REACT’s appreciation will lead him to investigate those unfamiliar words and more: Scaramouche, Bismillah, fandango (No, not the popular movie time site…)

I appreciated how he consulted his mom prior to listening, to see if she thought he’d enjoy the full song as much as he liked the snippet he’d heard in a movie trailer.

My son never asks my opinion like that.

Hold up a sec there, AFRO REACT. Why not leave Mom out of it and just give it a spin (as we used to say)?

I suspect what he was really eager to find out was whether she thought this track would be worthy of a reaction video.

The answer, resoundingly, is yes.

I confess that his habit of pausing the video to interject his own thoughts was driving me out of my gourd. My son does the same thing.

I have since learned this is more than just a symptom of being born into a world where pretty much everything can be paused and restarted at will, at least as far as practitioners of the reaction video arts are concerned.

Taking frequent breaks like that is a solid way to get around copyright claim when including the official videos alongside the reaction. (Other techniques include lowering the volume while offering one’s response or fast forwarding 5 seconds a couple of times per minute.)

I suspect many older fans will feel a lump at the 4:15 mark, as the appreciative first-timer muses, “This man has a beautiful voice. Like, what happened to him?”

Ask your mother, kid.

The real treat comes at 6:15. Scaramouche, scaramouche, whatever our young listener was expecting, it surely wasn’t that!

Thusly another Queen fan is forged. Just a few days ago, he shared his virgin response to “Under Pressure (Live at Wembley)

Tuscaloosa-based musician Joey Da Prince takes a more understated approach to reaction videos. Watching him bob from side to side, brow furrowed, appreciative involuntary smiles blooming now and again, reminds me of coming home, stripping the cellophane from a just-purchased album (or CD) and giving it a good hard listen, eyeballs glued to the liner notes.

He only hits pause once, shocked by the opening line of the famous first verse:

Mama just killed a man…

Oh, wait a minute. In a just posted 25-minute lyric breakdown, Joey reveals that he misheard that line, and was, understandably, taken aback by the idea of the singer’s mother murdering someone.

(Mercury’s technique was impeccable, so let’s take this as proof that commas are easier to see than hear…)

Like AFRO REACT, Joey quickly queued up the live version of “Under Pressure”…and “Somebody to Love,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “We Will Rock You,” the list goes on…

He’s obsessed to such a degree that he’s even filmed his reaction to pop culture essayist Polyphonic’s The Secrets Behind Freddie Mercury’s Legendary Voice, below. This is what lifelong learners do.

It’s worth noting that Joey Da Prince tried “Bohemian Rhapsody” on a commenter’s suggestion.

At the rate he’s going, he’s going to burn through Queen’s sizable catalogue pretty quickly, so toss him some suggestions, people!

I’m gonna go out on a limb and nominate Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.”

Gamer Quamax, aka Qua, did not come to “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a total Queen newbie. By his own admission, he was somewhat familiar with “We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Under Pressure” from their appearances in movies and “other pop culture” (which presumably does not cover someone else’s reaction videos.)

As he listens in an intent forward-facing hunch, he seems the most keyed-in to the humor that is a definite part of this song’s listening experience (and possibly performance). He laughs merrily at the phrase “Mama Mia, Mama Mia” and avails himself of some truly delightful after effects in the editing process. (Those in a rush may fast forward to 4:32.)

Final pronouncement? It’s “dope and funny” and he really liked the transitions from one musical style to another.

Welcome to the Queen Army, Quamax! You should try listening to “Under…” oh, you already did.

Readers, if these young men’s open-mindedness and open ears have inspired you to shoot a reaction video of your own, you’ll find a good primer here.

What haven’t you heard?

And what do you wish you could hear again for the very first time?

via Metafilter

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Hear Freddie Mercury & Queen’s Isolated Vocals on Their Enduring Classic Song, “We Are The Champions”

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Watch the Brand New Trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody, the Long-Awaited Biopic on Freddie Mercury & Queen

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, October 15 for another monthly installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

John Turturro Introduces America to the World Wide Web in 1999: Watch A Beginner’s Guide To The Internet

There are only two kinds of story, holds a quote often attributed to Leo Tolstoy: a man goes on a journey, or a stranger comes to town. When it set about producing A Beginner’s Guide to the Internet, a “community service video” geared to viewers unfamiliar with the World Wide Web, internet portal company Lycos went with the latter. That stranger, a history teacher and aspiring comedian named Sam Levin, comes to a town named Tick Neck, Pennsylvania, his car having broken down early in a cross-country drive to a gig in Las Vegas. In order to update his manager/sister on the situation, he stops into the rural hamlet’s only diner and orders “coffee, half regular and half decaf — and the telephone book.”

Sam doesn’t make a call; instead he unplugs the diner’s phone, connects the line to his computer, looks up his internet service provider’s local number, and (after the requisite modem sounds) gets on the information superhighway. Today we know few activities as mundane as going online at a coffee shop, but the townspeople, innocent even of e-mail, are transfixed. Sam shows a couple of kids how to search for information on haunted houses and college scholarships, and soon the students become the teachers, demonstrating online games to friends, chat rooms to a cranky old-timer (“I don’t like this word network at all. Network of what? Spies, probably”) and even state government feedback forms to the mayor of Tick Neck (who describes herself as “not much with a keyboard”).

Though at times it feels like the 1950s, the year was 1999, perhaps the last moment before America’s complete internet saturation — before social media, before streaming video, before blogs, before almost everything popular online today. “The video for Internet ‘newbies’ starring John Turturro was made available for free rental on the community service shelf of over 4,000 Blockbuster Video stores, West Coast Video stores, public school libraries and classrooms across the United States,” says a contemporary article at “The production was funded by Lycos who has instituted a campaign to better educate the public about the World Wide Web.”

Those of us on the Web in the 1990s will remember Lycos, which ran one of the popular search engines before the age of Google. Launched in 1994 as a research project at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (which might explain A Beginner’s Guide to the Internet‘s setting), Lycos was in 1999 the most visited online destination in the world, and the next year Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica acquired it for a cool $12.5 billion. Turturro, not to be outdone, had in 1998 ascended to a high level of the countercultural zeitgeist with his role in the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski, the purple-clad bowler Jesus Quintana — very much not a stranger anyone would want going online with their kids, but Turturro has always had a formidable range.

History hasn’t recorded how many newbies A Beginner’s Guide to the Internet helped to start surfing the Web, but the video remains a fascinating artifact of attitudes to the internet during its first period of enormous growth. “My family doesn’t own a computer,” the young boy tells Sam, “and my dad doesn’t like ’em. He says facts are facts.” (That last sentence, innocuous at the time, does take on a new resonance today.) The boy’s teenage sister excitedly describes the internet as “like going to the library, department store, and post office, all at the same time.” Entering his credit card number to buy an auto-repair manual for the skeptical mechanic, Sam says (with a strange defensiveness) that “it’s completely private. I’ve done it before and it’s not a problem.” As with any stranger of legend who comes to town, Sam leaves Tick Neck a changed place — though not nearly as much as the Tick Necks of the world have since been changed by the internet itself.

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John Turturro Reads Italo Calvino’s Fairy Tale, “The False Grandmother,” in a Short Animated Film

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Behold the MusicMap: The Ultimate Interactive Genealogy of Music Created Between 1870 and 2016

A Pandora for the adventurous antiquarian, the highly underrated site Radiooooo gives users streaming music from all over the world and every decade since 1900. While it offers an aural feast, its limited interface leaves much to be desired from an educational standpoint. On the other end of the audio-visual spectrum, clever diagrams like those we’ve featured here on electronic music, alternative, and hip hop show the detailed connections between all the major acts in these genres, but all they do so in silence.

Now a new interactive infographic built by Belgian architect Kwinten Crauwels brings together an encyclopedic visual reference with an exhaustive musical archive. Though it’s missing some of the features of the resources above, the Musicmap far surpasses anything of its kind online—“both a 23and me-style ancestral tree and a thorough disambiguation of just about every extant genre of music,” writes Fast Company.

Or as Frank Jacobs explains at Big Think, Crauwels’ goal is “to provide the ultimate genealogy of popular music genres, including their relations and history.”

With over 230 genres in all—linked together in intricate webs of influence, mapped in a zoomable visual interface that organizes them all at macro and micro levels of description, and linked to explanatory articles and representative playlists (drawn from YouTube)—the project is almost too comprehensive to believe, and its degree of sophistication almost too complex to summarize concisely (though Jacobs does a good job of it). The Musicmap spans the years 1870-2016 and covers 22 major categories (with Rock further broken into six and “World” into three).

In an oval around the colorful skyscraper-like “super-genres” are decades, moving from past to present from top to bottom. Zoom into the “super-genres” and find “a spider’s web of links within and between the different houses” of subgenres. “Those links can indicate parentage or influence, but also a backlash (i.e. as ‘anti-links’).” Clicking on the name of each subgenre reveals “a short synopsis and a playlist of representative songs.” These two functions, in turn, link to each other, allowing users to click through in a more Wikipedia-like way once they’ve entered the minutiae of the Musicmap’s contents.

The map not only draws connections between subgenres but also between their relatives in other “super-genres” (learn about the relationship, for example, between folk rock and classic metal). On the left side of the screen is a series of buttons that reveal an introduction, methodology, abstract, several navigational functions, a glossary of musical terms, and a bibliography (called “Acknowledgments”). Aside from visually reducing all the way down to the level of individual bands within each subgenre, which could become a little dizzying, it’s hard to think of anything seriously lacking here.

Anything we might find fault with might be changed in the near future. Although Crauwels spent almost ten years on research and development, first conceiving of the project in 2008, the current site “is still version 1.0 of Music map. In later versions, the playlists will be expanded, perhaps even community-generated.” Crauwels also wants to sync up with Spotify. Although not a musician himself, he is as passionate about music as he is about design and education, making him very likely the perfect person to take on this task, which he admits can never be completed.

Crauwels does not currently seem to have plans to monetize his map. His stated motives are altruistic, in the same public service spirit as Radiooooo. “Musicmap,” he says, “believes that knowledge about music genres is a universal right and should be part of basic education.” At the moment, the education here only applies to popular music, although enough of it to acquire a graduate-level historical knowledge base.

The four categories at the top of the map—the strangely named “Utility” (which includes hymns, military marches, musicals, and soundtracks), Folk, Classical, and World—are zoomable but do not have clickable links or playlists. Given Crauwels’ completist instincts, this may well change in future updates. In the TED talk above, see him tell the story of how he created Musicmap, a DIY effort that came out of his frustration that nothing like it existed, so he had to create it himself.

Enter the Musicmap here and try not to get lost for several hours.

via Big Think

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Smartify, a Shazam for Art, Lets You Use Your Phone to Scan, Identify & Learn About Major Works of Art

Not so long ago, art museums were known as temples of quiet contemplation, despite daily invasions by raucous school groups.

Now, the onus is on the museums to bring the mountain to Mohammed. Those kids have smartphones. How long can a museum hope to stay relevant—nay, survive—without an app?

Many of the museums who’ve already partnered up with Smartify—an app (MacAndroid) that lets you take a picture of artwork with your phone and instantly access information about them—have existing apps of their own in place: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, to name a few.

These institutional apps provide visitors with an expanded view of the sort of information one commonly finds on a museum card, in addition to such practicalities as gallery layouts and calendars of events. More often than not, there’s an option to “save” an artwork the visitor finds captivating—no word on what this feature is doing to postcard sales in museum shops, so perhaps print isn’t dead yet.

Given all the museum apps free for the downloading, for whom is Smartify, a “Shazam for art,” intended?

Perhaps the globetrotting museum hopper eager to consolidate? Its developers are adamant that it’s intended to complement, not replace, in-person visits to the institutions where the works are housed, so armchair museum goers are advised to look elsewhere, like Google Arts & Culture.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiaries will be the smaller galleries and museums ill equipped to launch freestanding apps of their own. Smartify’s website states that it relies on “annual membership from museum partners, in-app transactions, advertising and data sales to relevant arts organisations.”

Early adopters complained that while the app (MacAndroid) had no trouble identifying famous works of art, it came up empty on the lesser-known pieces. That’s a pity as these are the works visitors are most likely to seek further information on.

One of the developers compared the Smartify experience to visiting a museum in the company of “an enthusiastic and knowledgeable friend telling you more about a work of art.”

Maybe better to do just that, if the option exists? Such a friend would not be hampered by the copyright laws that hamper Smartify with regard to certain works. A friend might even stand you a hot chocolate or some pricey scone in the museum cafe.

At any rate, the app (MacAndroid) is now available for visitors to take for a spin in 22 different museums and galleries in the UK, US, and Europe, with the promise of more to come.

Those whose knowledge of art history is vast are likely to be underwhelmed, but it could be a way for those visiting with kids and teens to keep everyone engaged for the duration. As one enthusiastic user wrote:

As a childhood Pokemon fan and avid art fan, this is a dream come true. This is like a Pokedex for art lol. If you ever watched the anime, Ash Ketchum would scan a Pokemon with his Pokedex and get the details of its name, type, habits, etc. This app does that but instead of scanning monsters, it scans and analyzes art work then gives you the load (sic) down about it.

Those with Internet privacy concerns may choose to heed, instead, the user who wrote:

Be aware, they want to gather as a “side effect” your private art collection. I just wanted to try it out with some of my art pieces (Günther Förg, Richter, etc) but it doesn’t work if you don’t give them your location data. Be careful!


Museums and Galleries Whose Images/Art Appear in Smartify as of January 2018


J. Paul Getty Museum

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Laguna Art Museum

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Freer | Sackler GalleriesThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met Cloisters



The Bowes Museum

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Ben Uri Gallery

The Wallace Collection

Royal Academy of Arts

National Gallery

Sculpture in the City




Rijksmuseum Twenthe

Little Beaux-Arts

Museo Correr

Museo San Donato (MPSArt)

The State Hermitage Museum

The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts


Download Smartify for Mac or Android.

via Dezeen

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Where to Find Free Art Images & Books from Great Museums, and Free Books from University Presses

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.