Where Outbound Bloomberg Is Committing Millions

Opinions may differ on outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but if there's one thing we all can agree on, it's his commitment to the arts. The Bloomberg Arts Initiative has committed $57 million to global arts organizations since 1999, and now comes news of a $15 million commitment to five cultural institutions across the next three years, beginning in June 2013.

We can also agree that as a stunningly successful businessman, Michael Bloomberg has a knack for knowing what customers want, which is why the details of this commitment are so fascinating. In essence, this funding seeks to ensure that institutions expand access and that visitors have a powerfully engaging experience. Just as Coca-Cola wants you to become a loyal, lifelong customer, so does Michael Bloomberg with respects to the arts.

The foundation seeks to accomplish this goal by, among other things, replacing traditional audio guides with state-of-the-art mobile guides that incorporate GPS and 3-D imaging. The foundation also funds mobile apps that provide rich audio and video content, interviews with artists and museum curators, maps, and paperless ticketing. The apps will be integrated with the institutions' websites so that visitors can access content from a mobile device at any time.

The five recipients of Bloomberg funds are the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

The foundation's strategy is already paying dividends. One recipient, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (see Bloomberg Philanthropies: New York City Grants), released an updated mobile app in advance of a James Turrell exhibition that opened in June 2013. The app, which can be downloaded on Guggenheim's website, features multimedia guides and educational tours and enables users to create their own personalized collection of Turrell's works.