Museums may be filled with antiquities, but today they're also home to cutting-edge technology: downloadable apps and podcasts that make it easier than ever to plan and customize your visit.
We're particularly impressed with the New York Museum of Modern Art's free iPhone and iPad apps. In addition to five audio tours and a browse-by-floor map, there's a searchable index of every work, not to mention the MoMA snap feature, which allows you to send instant postcards to your friends at home.
San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art offers similarly comprehensive tours through their free app, which includes insight from curators, critics and the artists themselves, all updated regularly. And the Dallas Museum of Art has taken the smartphone plunge, too. But don't worry if you haven't: For flip-phone holdouts, they offer loaners so you won't miss out on the fun.
Other museums require nothing but an mp3 player for downloading podcasts to bring along as your tour guide. Check out Jitish Kallat's discussion of his Grand Staircase installation at The Art Institute of Chicago, or a video documentary narrated by Isabella Rossellini on the National Gallery's current Giuseppe Arcimbolo exhibit.