National Museum of African Art Announces Bilingual Mobile App

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art launched its first interactive mobile application on iTunes. The free app, designed in association with Tristan Interactives Inc. of Toronto, is the first one available by the Smithsonian in English and Portuguese. The app takes the exhibition “Artists in Dialogue 2: Henrique Oliveira and Sandile Zulu” beyond the museum.

“Artists in Dialogue 2” is the second in a series of exhibitions in which the theme of communication connects artists across the Atlantic Ocean by bringing together Sandile Zulu of South Africa with Henrique Oliveira of Brazil, resulting in site-specific works of art at the museum. The artists’ visual call and response includes Zulu’s trademark control of fire to create streamlined paintings and sculptures in combination with Oliveira’s bold and turbulent works made from the seemingly tame medium of wood. Features include a detailed tour of the exhibition guided by National Museum of African Art curator Karen E. Milbourne, with exclusive videos available only on the app in which the artists describe their works of art, introduce one another and discuss their collaborative process. “This takes the exhibition beyond the physical boundaries of the building making it available in South Africa, Brazil and around the world,” said Milbourne.

Other features include:

Video interviews with the artists
High-resolution images of their work and a tour of the gallery by the exhibition curator
A Twitter feed that unites app users onsite and beyond
A game in which one can make and share art using the unusual techniques of the artists, including burning and laminating wood strips
The app invites users to join the conversation using a live Twitter feed or post questions to the artists on YouTube and to experiment virtually with the artists’ technique in an art-making game that features strips of virtual wood, paint and fire. The app also allows users to test their knowledge of South Africa and Brazil with trivia quizzes and learn more about what is happening at the museum. Just as the exhibition’s website (, blog ( and forthcoming publication complement the gallery experience, the app contextualizes the artists, their art and their conversation in a unique and geographically unbound way. The exhibition has been extended to remain on view through Jan. 5, 2012.

About the National Museum of African Art
The National Museum of African Art is America’s only museum dedicated to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of traditional and contemporary African art. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except Dec. 25. Admission is free. The museum is located at 950 Independence Avenue S.W., near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines.

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