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New SFMOMA iPad App Tells Story of a Year

First Museum to Release Year-in-Review Annual Report as iPad App

Released: May 07, 2012 ·

Using forward-looking technology to look back on a phenomenal year, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presents Story of a Year, a newly designed iPad app that documents and celebrates the 2011 fiscal year at the museum. SFMOMA has long been known for its innovative uses of interactive media, and now it becomes the first museum to offer its annual report in the form of an app. Incorporating multimedia content to create a visually compelling and intellectually engaging experience, the app is an ideal technological match for the museum’s dynamic programs. 

“It was an extraordinary year at SFMOMA, and we wanted to share it in an extraordinary way,” says museum Director Neal Benezra. “The app actively reflects our pursuit of the new, and is a perfect way to share our story with the growing museum community that thrives beyond our walls.”

The Story of a Year app is available to anyone for free in the iTunes store. The app was developed in-house at the museum in close collaboration with Mag+, a platform for publishing creative content on touch-screen tablets and smart phones. A PDF version of Story of a Year, without multimedia features but including a full list of the museum’s activities over the year, is also available at sfmoma.org/annual.

Covering the period from July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011, Story of a Year lets users see the big picture or explore in depth with the touch of a finger complete details on all of the museum’s exhibitions, programs, and acquisitions. Unlike a traditional paper or PDF annual report, the app takes full advantage of the iPad’s intuitive interface to deliver an array of content that takes viewers behind the scenes at the museum—all without leaving the platform.  Throughout, links within the app and to SFMOMA’s website provide easy access to even more content and context.

Multimedia features include:

·         Videos of museum Director Neal Benezra and Snøhetta principal architect Craig Dykers describing their vision for SFMOMA’s future expansion.

·         Animated “fly-through” tour of the museum’s future new building and detailed digital renderings.

·         A video introduction to Gertrude Stein and her family, created for SFMOMA’s critically acclaimed 2011 exhibition The Steins Collect.

·         A video interview with artist Stephanie Syjuco about Shadowshop, her alternative store/conceptual art work within SFMOMA’s galleries.

·          A video that goes behind the scenes with Bill Fontana’s sound installation Sonic Shadows, created for the museum’s main public space.

Reflecting the Bay Area’s renown for pioneering new technologies and ways of thinking, SFMOMA is widely acknowledged as a leader among museums worldwide for using innovative means to engage audiences, both on site and online. From its award-winning website—one of the first launched by a U.S. art museum—and prizewinning interpretive CD-ROMS of the 1990s to its innovative podcasts and multimedia gallery tours of the 2000s, SFMOMA has consistently forged new models for museum education, interpretation, and communication. With resources like the Making Sense of Modern Art Mobile interactive gallery guide and the Country Dog Gentlemen Gallery Game (now also an iPad app), SFMOMA has continued to pursue advances in digital media in order to tell the stories of modern and contemporary art in fresh and compelling ways. Applying this sophisticated approach to new subject matter—not only representing the past year at SFMOMA, but also offering a glimpse of what the museum will be in years to come—the Story of a Year app furthers SFMOMA’s commitment to digital culture and technological advancement.

Story of a Year comprises three sections: “The Big Picture,” “Spotlights,” and “A Closer Look.”

The Big Picture

Messages from SFMOMA Board Chair Charles Schwab and Director Neal Benezra offer an overview of the ideas and approaches that guided SFMOMA in 2011 and that are helping to shape its future. Schwab highlights SFMOMA’s commitment to community; Benezra considers what makes the museum a magnetic and transformative place, both in the galleries and behind the scenes.


Through a rich mix of images, video, and text, the app shines a spotlight on some of the key developments at SFMOMA in fiscal 2011. Among the events showcased are the unveiling of Snøhetta’s luminous designs for the museum’s expansion; the extraordinary exhibition The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde; the launch of the Collections Campaign, which has yielded hundreds of promised gifts of art from Bay Area collectors; and the unprecedented success of Art Auction 2011, which raised more than $2 million in support of SFMOMA’s exhibitions and programs.

Ongoing initiatives are represented, too, from the exhibitions, public programs, and member events that keep the museum buzzing to the family programs and free days that open up the galleries to wider audiences. Plentiful quotes from visitors attest to these programs’ popularity. SFMOMA’s inventive approach to digital engagement, education, and outreach is also highlighted, and a “By the Numbers” feature tabulates everything from museum visitors (636,057) to blog posts published (325), facebook followers (71,158), and more.

A Closer Look

This section offers comprehensive, in-depth information about all of SFMOMA’s activities in 2011. Complete lists of exhibitions, education efforts, and public programs demonstrate the breadth and depth of the museum’s offerings. Details on 2011 acquisitions, including both gifts and museum purchases, bear witness to the quality of the museum’s growing collection. Financial highlights provide a quick overview of SFMOMA’s fiscal position, while lists of supporters and staff recognize the many individuals and organizations that made this amazing year at the museum possible.

Jill Lynch 415.357.4172 jilynch@sfmoma.org
Clara Hatcher Baruth 415.357.4177 chatcher@sfmoma.org
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