Tate Trumps

As museums struggle to find new ways to attract visitors and engage them, London’s Tate Modern has a pretty cool idea… use game-play to make museum-going more fun. How? With their iPhone app Tate Trumps.

With the app, visitors:

roam the gallery looking for artworks you think will score highly in one of three modes. In Battle mode, you need to ask yourself the question, “If this artwork came to life, how good would it be in a fight?”. In Mood mode, you’re looking for artworks you think are menacing, exhilarating or absurd. Or, if you wish you had a gallery of your own, try Collector mode, and find pictures which are famous, recently produced or practical to house. Once you’ve formed your collection, meet up with your friends, and play a fun game of trumps to see who did the best.

It seems like a fantastic idea — a fun way for families or friends to explore the museum. For the novice museumgoer it gives them reason to visit, and a non-threatening introduction to the collection. For more experienced visitors it lets them look at the art in new ways. And for all audiences, the sequence of exploring individually (which may also help heighten one’s appreciation of the art) and then regrouping to play the game (in a cafe or other public space) is really smart — enhancing and activating all areas of the museum.

The game was built by the social game design firm Hide & Seek. It was released in June 2010, but has just been shortlisted in the 2011 MediaGuardian Innovation Awards.