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Taking the iRoad

As everybody knows, we think Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective is pretty great—not only because it features nearly 170 works by one of the most significant American artists of the 20th century, but also because it’s an opportunity to bring together and showcase other museum initiatives that might not be in the galleries. It can be easy to forget that a museum is populated not only by curators, but also by writers and photographers, lawyers, accountants and budget managers, painters and carpenters, gardeners and groundskeepers—and computer programmers and developers. Last night, in conjunction with a talk by curator James Rondeau about the exhibition, we were able to give these developers their due!

At the Apple Store in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, we unveiled two new—and pretty groundbreaking—digital projects for our members: a digital member card and our Member Magazine for the iPad. We’re the first museum to offer these apps, and we’re excited about them—as are our members. The digital member card is a scannable screen—much like a boarding pass—for members to show to gain entry to the museum and the Member Lounge, and receive their discounts in the restaurants and shops. This free download is available in the App store (just look for “Art Institute of Chicago”) and, after entering a member number and a zip code, becomes s a member card that lives on the home screen of an iPhone or iPod Touch. It was developed by our very own Matt Norris, director of application services. When I asked him how he came up with the idea, he simply said, “It seemed cool, so I started playing around with it.” Who would have thought we would ever see the day when a plastic card seemed inconvenient? Well, that day is here, and nearly 2,000 members have already downloaded their cards.

The Member Magazine for the iPad was developed by Maggie Malone of Cultural Media, Inc., our publishing partner for the Member Magazine. We’re now able to offer select content from the magazine—feature articles and calendars—with the added bonus of videos related to our exhibitions and collections. Also free, the Member Magazine is available through Apple’s Newsstand and is updated with every new issue of the Member Magazine.

The Lichtenstein exhibition was a great catalyst for all of these percolating projects to come to fruition. If you’re a member, try them out!

PS Bonus points if you know who J. Ellis Bonham is!