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9/11 Museum Audio Guide
Pros: Exceptional accessibility features and thoughtfully designed tours make the museum accessible and approachable to a wide range of visitors.
Cons: The built-in site map is surprisingly tough to navigate.
Bottom Line: An excellent digital extension of a thoughtfully designed museum.
School groups visiting the museum might have kids install the app prior to their visit and then have kids use the guide (especially Discovering History) during their visit. Teachers might also use the app to take kids on a virtual tour of the museum, and they might ask kids to reflect on their own impressions of the events of September 11.
The 9/11 Museum Audio Guide is a mobile device companion for visitors to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center in New York City. The guide features three narrative audio guides for navigating the museum's exhibits: Witnessing History (for adults, narrated by actor Robert DeNiro), Discovering History (for kids and families, narrated by a child), and Building History (for visitors focused on architecture and archeology). The app also features tours that offer more detailed guidance for visitors who are hearing impaired (through an American Sign Language tour) and visually impaired (through a detailed audio guide of the entire exhibit space). Users can navigate the recordings in order or choose recordings from their spots on the built-in map of the exhibit space. Text and audio are available in five languages, and each guide includes both recordings and transcripts.
The section for kids and families (Discovering History) is narrated by Clara Neubauer, a young woman who was born on September 11, 2001. She offers a kid-appropriate, kid-focused tour that introduces young visitors to the museum-going experience in general and this museum's exhibits in particular. It's a great introduction to what might be some kids' first museum experience, and it's a kid-focused, kid-appropriate introduction that's both powerful and approachable. Each tour's content is similarly detailed, sensitive, and thoughtful, and it's especially empowering that users can pick the tour that best suits their interests and needs.
The one major area for improvement might be the built-in site map. While it's nice to be able to jump immediately to a new audio feature directly from the map, it's a little hard to see the full site overview from the map, and it's surprisingly difficult to scroll and zoom on the map. Additionally, users might be surprised to discover the iTunes App Store lists this app as appropriate for users ages 17 and older; this is puzzling, since the Discovering History section is explicitly geared toward children ages 8 and up. Overall, this app's simple design and extensive audio make it a great companion for visiting the museum in person or experiencing it from afar.