New iPad app brings V&A archives to the digital stage

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) explores 60 years of British theatre history in an iPad app built and published with Mag+; delivering entertaining, educational, multimedia content to mobile audiences.

The V&A are today publishing an iPad app showcasing a new and previously undigitised theatrical photographic archive. The new app - Played in Britain: Modern Theatre in 100 Plays - covers six decades of British theatre history - from 1945 to 2010 and is introduced by the actor and academic Simon Callow. Built on the Mag+ iPad publishing platform, the app is packed with original essays, historical photographs and supplementary multimedia content. It introduces new audiences to the richness of the V&A's Theatre and Performance Collection.

Played in Britain uses Mag+'s sleek layouts to guide readers through 600 images of British theatre photography - taking full advantage of the iPad's retina display, multi-media, and intuitive interactions. The app presents each play as one long borderless page - for a smooth, fully engaged, reading experience. Taking full advantage of powerful Mag+ technology, the app brings to life the stories behind these rare photographs.

A catalyst for this app came in 2009, when the archives of prolific Soho theatre photographer Douglas H Jeffery were acquired by the V&A. The Theatre and Performance department of the Museum commissioned Mag+ to build an app to promote its rich post-war theatre collections to the public on iPad.

Malcolm Sutherland, responsible for digital projects and apps at the V&A, has already seen first hand how digital publishing can bring the V&A to a global audience, increasingly keen to consume content on-demand. The V&A's calendar app - also created using Mag+ - was released earlier this year. It is about to be updated, having already been downloaded more than 16,000 times.

"Using Mag+ to build the Played in Britain app, we've been able to prove that creating a great app is a cost effective way of showcasing content that's not on permanent display in the Museum," says Sutherland. "The app gives the V&A an opportunity not only to expand our audience, but to bring together our vast collections of photographic stills, audio-visual material and production photographs. All this is viewable in extraordinary detail, and in just a few simple swipes."

Damien Whitmore, V&A Director of Public Affairs and Programming said: "The V&A is world's leading museum of art and design. Our purpose is to inspire creativity in all of our visitors. This app provides a fantastic way of bringing rich and diverse content to people any place, at any time."

Mag+ is proud to be helping the V&A embrace the opportunity to engage a wider, more global mobile audience than ever before. Gregg Hano, CEO of Mag+, says: "We want to encourage more heritage organisations to capture new opportunities and new audiences through digital publishing. The V&A has discovered that experimenting with Mag+ to create and publish iPad apps not only produce beautiful results to be proud of, but gives more freedom, without the burden of costly resources."

Made in Britain: 100 Plays is packed with unique Mag+ multimedia features:

  • over 600 images, including the work of acclaimed theatre photographer Douglas H Jeffery
  • embedded videos
  • audio clips and narration by the plays' original cast members and other actors
  • click-through web browsing critic interviews
  • unique essays written by V&A experts
  • original first night reviews from the Guardian and Telegraph newspapers
  • original cast lists and interviews with cast members
  • long-form pages dedicated to each play

The app is available now from the Apple app store. It is priced at £7.99.  

Posted in Member news
14thDec 2012

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