How Walking Smart Can Enhance Our Sense of Place

How Walking Smart Can Enhance Our Sense of Place

by JoAnn Greco

JoAnn Greco for PlanPhilly explores the growing popularity of audio tours in urban environments, including the Fairmount Park Art Association’s Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO program.

Interested viewer listens to Museum Without Walls audio in front of a related sculpture
Participants listens to Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO. Photo Albert Yee © 2010 for the Association for Public Art.

“The Fairmount Park Art Association came, too. This summer, it plans to unveil a tour (accessible for free by cell phone, audio download, or as streaming audio on the website) that will guide walkers to sculptures along Kelly Drive and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, providing inside stories from more than 100 individuals. For example, sculptor Mark di Suvero will talk about the process behind his distinctive red welded steel works — ‘you have to control a puddle of liquid steel’ — such as Iroquois, outside the Art Museum. A preview is here:

‘This walk is different from both the museum-style curatorial approach and the narrative historic walk,’ said Penny Balkin Bach, the Association’s executive director. ‘It’s aimed toward nuggets of discovery — it will encourage spur-of-the-moment encounters with works of art.’

And so, the ability to dig more deeply into the stuff of a city seems the greatest potential offered by such ‘smart’ tourism — at least if it’s not dumbed down.”

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