How the Louvre and Nintendo are reinventing the museum audio tour

Thanks to an unlikely partnership between Japanese gaming company Nintendo and the Louvre Museum in Paris, navigating the gargantuan art museum should now be a bit easier for tourists.

On April 11, the Louvre replaced its previous audio tour system with a new batch of Nintendo 3DS devices preloaded with 700 commentaries on works of art at the museum, as well as an interactive map that helps users figure out where they are in the museum, and how to get to the next piece of art they want to check out.

The new guides are designed to reach out to the Louvre’s young and international customer base. Last year, the museum had 8.9 million visitors -- more than half of them under the age of 30 and two thirds of them foreign.


“Through this partnership, we wanted to bring together heritage and the innovative world of interactive entertainment through a system many people are already familiar with,” Herve Barbaret, managing director of the Louvre, said in a statement. “We feel that the Nintendo 3DS is perfect to achieve this goal.”

The Nintendo 3DS is a hand-held device about the size of a smartphone that has two screens -- a 3-D screen on the top and a touch screen on the bottom.

At the Louvre, people can use it the same way they would use an audio tour device -- punching a number into the device to hear one of the museum’s specialists explain the significance of certain pieces of art.

But it also adds a visual element, enabling viewers to virtually float over a statue by Michelangelo, or zoom up close to the tiny cracks on the face of the Mona Lisa.

And for anyone who has experienced that jittery low-blood-sugar feeling of being lost in a museum and trying desperately to find the shortest way out, the navigation element of the device cannot be underestimated.

The two screens of the Nintendo 3DS enable users to pull up a map of the floor of the museum they are on, as well as pinpoint their exact location.

There is also a menu that allows for a specific search of one of the museum’s 50 most popular works and can plot a path to get you there.

And no need to worry about poor reception: The positioning system relies on beacons posted around the museum.

The guides are available for rent for $6.50 on top of the museums’ $13 admission price, and they are available now.

Bon voyage!


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