Elementary School, High School, Middle School

5 iPad Apps for Learning About Art and Art History

One of the great things about the iPad in a classroom is that it enables students to pinch and zoom to see artworks in more detail than they would find in most text books. The following five apps allow students to do that and more.

Screen-Shot-2013-01-12-at-5.18.59-PMThe Life of Art is a free iPad app that provides its users with an interactive introduction to four artifacts from The Getty’s Life of Art exhibit. The Life of Art app displays a lidded bowl, a silver fountain, a side chair, and a wall light. All four items are ornately decorated while also being functional. On the Life of Art app users can click through the parts of each artifact to learn more about the importance of the decoration and the functions of each artifact. For example, when users tap on the silver fountain they can learn about the coat of arms that is engraved on it, learn about the functions of the fountain, and even learn why it is called a fountain. Each object in the app can be rotated and zoomed in on for examination in further detail.

Touch Van Gogh is a free iPad app produced by the Van Gogh Museum. Through the study of three paintings featured on the app students can learn about the composition techniques used by Vincent Van Gogh, a bit about his life when he was creating the featured paintings, and the restoration techniques used by the museum. The featured paintings are View from Theo’s ApartmentThe Bedroom, and Daubigny’s Garden. More paintings are slated to be added to the app in the near future.

The MoMA Art Lab is a free iPad app that elementary school and middle school students can use to learn about art and create art of their own. On the app students can learn about the processes artists use and how artists use shapes and colors to create art. After seeing how artists create art students can try their hands at creating drawings, paintings, collages, shape poems, and a half dozen other forms of art.


NGAkids Art Zone is a free iPad app from the National Gallery of Art. The app is designed to help elementary school and middle school students explore art through eight interactive activities. After students open the app they can scroll through a gallery of paintings and drawings. Double-tapping on a drawing or painting will open an interactive activity in which students can modify the original work. Modification of a selected work takes place through sketching and or adding elements selected from a gallery of modifications. Students can save each work in the app or save it to the camera roll on an iPad.

Louvre HD is an iPad app that puts 400 paintings housed at the Louvre on your iPad. The app doesn’t offer much in the way of interactivity or lessons, but it does allow you to pinch and zoom to see artworks in detail. You can sort the galleries in the app according to century, genre, and artist.

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