Let's face it, knowing more than your friends can get expensive. Between museum tickets, gallery openings, and all those coffee table books, the art of presumption can cost you as much as an original oil on canvas by that early American painter you heard of once.
No more! In these heady days of digital democratization, finding masterpieces of human achievement is not only easy, it's cheap! These three apps will help you find all the art you can handle without dropping a ton on entry fees. From free museum days to public art, they will keep you insufferable at dinner parties for less.
Museum Free Days
(Free for iPhone)
This little-known and even less-reviewed app version of the Museum Free Days website curates museums across the country and lists their free admission days. The app version is useful for day trips to the city or last minute searches if you have a couple hours (and no money) to spare. Search this handy tool by date or city. Even view select museums on a map and favorite your top picks. The downside? The app doesn't list all museums in a given city, but does cover the big names. And really, are you going to nitpick when it's free?
CultureNOW:Museum Without Walls
(1.99, available for iPhone and Android)
A coalition formed by design firms in New York City, cultureNOW strives to bring awareness of free public art and architecture to the masses. While their website is a treasure trove of public art from across the country, their app is an information-packed tome combining 55 public art collections across the country with podcasts, events listings, self-guided audio tours, and more. Listen to Hugh Hardy discuss his restoration of the New Victory Theater while you tour the building. Go on a walking tour of the University of Florida's Public Art (complete with tour podcast), or check out Los Angeles' Little Tokyo district. Map functions get you to nearby free sites with ease.
(Free for iPhone)
Want to get to your favorite art exhibits quickly? Want to know when they're about to close so you don't miss any more of them? ArtFinder to the rescue. Okay, so the exhibitions aren't all necessarily free, but combine this with a free museum day and you've got cheap culture on the go! The app will let you know if booking is required for exhibitions, plus provides detailed information on each show and artist, so you'll sound like you know what you're talking about as you stand in front of that bizarre abstract. A handy map function lays out what's on display nearby, with admission prices, and information on museums. It's culture for the rest of us.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Museum Free Days, cultureNOW, and ArtFinder