Once upon a time, museum visitors strolled through the galleries listening to informative audio tours. But with gallery overhauls and staff changes, the recordings became outdated, and the audio tours—loaded onto portable devices—were retired. Now, thanks to the HoMA app, audio tours are reborn, and more streamlined than ever. (Jump to instructions.)

Using your Apple or Android smartphone, or even iPod or tablet, you can now enjoy an informative, easy-to-use mobile audio tour of the new photography exhibition Christopher Cole: The Global South, on view in the Holt gallery until July 9, 2017.

The new tour, scripted by assistant curator of contemporary art Katherine Love and produced by members of the museum’s communications team, is a test run. More comprehensive audio tours are planned for this fall’s Abstract Expressionism: Looking East from the Far West exhibition and, eventually, a museum-wide audio tour experience.

The roughly five-minute audio experience for The Global South is loaded with tidbits that Cole emailed to Love, creating a sensation of looking right over the artist’s shoulder as he frames his shots from high, urban vantage points. Highlighting four of the six images in the gallery, the tour conjures up the wind, dust, and people that Cole encountered in Kabul, Mexico City, Kathmandu, and Havana during the last decade.

Love volunteered to write the script for this first mobile audio tour due to her fascination with Cole’s process. “I was intrigued by how he manages to take the cumbersome equipment of an 8×10 camera, tripod, and film on his international travels. I was also interested to learn more about how his interest in photography relates to his studies in anthropology and about how the connection between the two originally developed,” she explains.

As a curator, Love thinks about the visitor experience, too. “Cole’s process involves extensive travel to remote parts of the world, and I think, especially for those of us in Hawai‘i, many are places we may never see in person. But thinking about how others live may be a way to find surprising connections between our communities,” Love says. For her, trips to Kaimukī have changed as a result of curating this exhibition. “Looking up at Wilhemina Rise, I’m instantly reminded of this series of photographs. There are striking visual parallels between the density of the houses on the hillsides in Kaimukī, and in his photographs of Kabul and Kathmandu, where his intention is to show a large population living in one area.”

Hear more firsthand stories from behind Christopher Cole: The Global South at ARTafterDARK: Parallel Universe. The artist will give a public lecture in the gallery at 6:30pm.

Coming soon: Foreign language audio tours!


Here’s how to take the audio tour.

First, you need the app. Just search “Honolulu Museum of Art” in the App Store or Google Play. Learn more about the app here.

Then, open the app and tap the menu icon. Scroll down, and tap Audio Tour.


Select “Christopher Cole: The Global South.” Press the play icon for the corresponding piece. As you walk into the exhibition space, the order of pieces with corresponding tracks is arranged clockwise around the room, starting at the left.


Headphones are recommended. If your device is headphoneless, listen with your speaker volume on low.