National Museum of African Art Launches “Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean” App for iPhone and iPod Touch

November 15, 2016
News Release
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The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art has launched the “Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean” mobile app. It is available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch in the App Store and on Google Play for Android. Developed and designed by the Balance Studios, the app will feature information found in the Gems programmatic activities and additional resources that will provide better context to the rich history of the communities surrounding the Indian Ocean. The app is an opportunity for the museum to engage new and younger audiences and to interact with African Art through modern means. The app was launched by Balance Studios at the museum’s recent STEAM Mobile App Tech Night.

“The museum is excited to present this new mobile app for the Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa project,” said Nicole Shivers, education specialist and project lead. “This app will allow viewers around the world to experience the dynamic history, culture and arts of these regions through an interactive experience. It was our intent to expand the museum beyond its walls through EdTech innovation.”

The app is geared toward general audiences and those well versed in the connections between these regions. Highlights of the app include:

  • Language components in Swahili, Arabic and English
  • Interactive maps
  • History of architectural connections
  • History of fashion and music
  • 3-D model viewers
  • Video content

About "Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa"

In November 2013, the museum launched a multiyear series of programming, "Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa," to highlight the cross-cultural connections of East and North Africa with those found in the Middle East. It showcases the evolution of Omani arts and cultures, the beauty of the arts in Oman and its connections to the East African Coast. This partnership was made possible by the Sultan of Qaboos Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. For more information about Connecting the Gems, visit here.

About the National Museum of African Art

The National Museum of African Art is America’s only major museum dedicated to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of traditional and contemporary African art. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. The museum is located at 950 Independence Avenue S.W., near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines. For more information about this program, call (202) 633-4600 or visit the museum’s website at For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000.

The “Connecting the Gems” app is available for free from the App Store at or on Google Play for Android at

For media requests, contact Eddie Burke at (202) 633-4660 or

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