What's this MTA artwork? Ask your phone

Frame grab of the Arts for Transits app Frame grab of the Arts for Transits app made by mobile software developer Meridian. This frame shows the artwork in the LIRR's Atlantic Terminal. (May 13, 2012) Photo Credit: Handout

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The MTA's Arts for Transit installations at train stations often compete with smartphones for the attention of commuters. Now, the agency has found a way to combine the two in one new app.

Mobile software developer Meridian Inc. has partnered with the MTA on the Arts for Transit app, which puts all of the authority's artworks from 236 subway and commuter rail stations in the palms of commuters' hands.

Users can browse the app, which was launched last month, for artworks by line and by agency, and learn more about their artists, meanings and inspirations.

Each artwork's app page includes photos, and some include video and audio. At some subway stations, the app will even show turn-by-turn directions to find an artwork.

MTA Arts for Transit director Sandra Bloodworth said the goal was to simulate the museum experience for those on the move.

"In traditional museums, you have a label on a wall. You walk up to the label and you can know everything about the piece," said Bloodworth, who noted that Arts for Transit projects do have labels, but they're not always easily found. "We wanted an app that really brought that information to you accurate -- from the horse's mouth, so to speak."

The app is free for users, and there was no cost to the MTA in partnering with Meridian.

Bloodworth said the MTA is keeping the app up-to-date with the latest Arts for Transit projects, including that at the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue subway station last week.

The LIRR has Arts for Transit projects at 15 stations, including a dozen in Nassau and Suffolk. The MTA is in the process of finding an artist for the next LIRR installation -- a glass mosaic at Massapequa.

"The MTA has one of the most impressive art collections in the world," said Jeff Hardison, vice president of Meridian, which is based in Portland, Ore. "As the collection grows, the app will grow as well."

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