Pieter Bruegel the Elder, “The Tower of Babel”
Kunsthistorisches Museum (German Version)
I downloaded this off Google Play Store during my search for apps centered around art history. Simply put, this app gives a tour of Austria’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. The museum itself has its own app, so the one I’m reviewing falls under the unofficial category. Also, I checked out the company that created this, and while I haven’t looked at them all, it seems that they made a whole series of apps dedicated to art.
A bit on the bland side, this app only has photos of the museum, a search engine, a GPS map, and two games. The photo series begins with shots of the museum’s exterior and its equestrian sculpture. After those, comes photos of the museum’s interiors and galleries. Looking through this series a few times, I found my senses overloaded with the museum’s abundance of brightly colored murals, sculptures, and detailed architectural decorations. Also, the interiors remind me of the Library of Congress and the Vatican. After some searching, I found that the museum’s architects took influence from Roman Antiquity and a then new form of Baroque.
After leaving the gaudy marble columns and ceiling paintings, the app shows the museum’s galleries. The first starts with an Egyptian themed section, and it’s amazingly tasteful compared to the walls and ceilings overloaded with Classically inspired decor. The sarcophagi, the murals showing the parade of people whose size indicates their importance, the winged people, and the proto-columns? It felt orderly and not overdone. Then the series shows a doorway outside the Egyptian room, and it’s framed by seated Egyptian figures and Neo-Classical marble sculpture. The excess continues in other rooms such as one dedicated to paintings of subjects lying around half covered in robes. Interestingly, the room has these big comfy couches that could tempt you into imitating the people in the works. Even the flower still lifes provide an atmosphere of relaxation. Quite a contrast to the rigid Egyptian poses. Other photos focus on paintings of young royalty and the Tower of Babel. The app offers no information on the art featured. Later searches revealed the Babel painting as a Breugel creation (see painting above).
Overall, this app does show that the museum knows how to set a mood for visitors. When a photo depicts a hallway leading into the museum’s Renaissance section, the floor’s geometric shape pattern took me back to walking in the cathedrals of Rome and Florence. The photo sequence continues with Bronze statues (possibly small-scale) of nude Greek deities. Other small marble statues have their bodies clothed in thick togas. The garments looked so voluminous and heavy as they hid the subject’s bodies. Quite a conservative contrast to the nude deities. The photo sequence ends with Egyptian animal headed beings and birds.
The app contained other features such as a GPS map of Vienna and another has a Google search engine already set to giving you a more extensive search of Austria’s art scene beyond the app’s offerings. And the games I mentioned earlier? One game uses the Concentration model, and another uses the scramble model. The app calls the scramble game “Pazzle” and calls the Concentration one “NervousGame” and has them in versions “Smart Phone” and “Without SP”. This means if you play this on your phone, one version will dominate the entire screen and you have to use the scroll while another version has a more compact look.
Do I recommend this app? It’s free to download, so why not? If you’re willing to deal with the Asian pop-up ads (I think it’s from a Japanese company.), so go ahead. While I have other Museum apps to look through, I’m going to withhold comparisons until I do a more in-depth exploration of them.
ETA: Added a sentence.
ETA: Tweaked a sentence.