The Prado Museum unveils multilingual iPad app

The application brings world famous art to the comfort of your own home It also enhances the user experience when in front of the paintings themselves

A shot of one of the menús on the Prado Museum's new app.
A shot of one of the menús on the Prado Museum's new app.

The Prado Museum in Madrid now boasts its own iPad application featuring an extensive and well-curated selection of the world-famous art gallery's works.

To access the interactive book, all you need to do is head to Apple's App Store on your device, search for "Museo Nacional del Prado" and hit download. That is the free part. After that, you have to choose your language - English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese are all currently available with German, Russian and Japanese set to follow at the end of May - with each version costing 9.95 euros.

Created by Fernando Gutiérrez, a British developer of Spanish origin, the app is designed to be used both at home and in the museum in front of the paintings themselves.

A total of 400 works are available to view, ordered by nationality and the period in which they were created, though only 50 of those can be examined in detail.

The app also features five suggestions for thematic tours around the gallery: 50 Masterpieces, Velázquez, Venetian Painting, Animals and Princesses - the last two aimed at children.

One nice touch is the inclusion of the reverse sides of diptychs and triptychs such as Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights , Adoration of the Magi and Haywain . These cannot be seen in the museum itself, but are available to view on your iPad.

The app also features smooth transitions, an index allowing you to go straight to a specific point and, in the top right corner, a button enabling you to share pages on Facebook and Twitter.

Zooming in

The app is not without its downsides. Unlike in many iPad apps you can't enlarge a photo by touching it with two fingers and moving them apart. Instead you have to press a button on those photos where an option to zoom in is available.

Another problem is that the app is designed only to be used vertically. When you turn you iPad horizontally, the screen doesn't change to improve your view of the image and dispense with the text, as is the norm on many other apps.

In all, this interactive book could be considered a digital version of the Prado Museum's catalogue, but with two important differences - the multimedia aspect and the price. The paper version of the Prado catalogue will set you back 24 euros.

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