California: Grace Cathedral’s history told through new app-based audio tour

Posted Aug 10, 2016

[Grace Cathedral press release] Grace Cathedral, one of San Francisco’s most historic and iconic buildings that attracts more than half a million visitors each year, has announced the debut of GraceGuide, its first foray into the world of apps.

GraceGuide is a set of app-based audio tours for both adults and families. Produced by Antenna, one of the world’s leading designers of digital content and mobile experiences for cultural and historic institutions, GraceGuide brings to life the cathedral’s fascinating history, from the Great Earthquake of 1906 to the tremors wrought by struggles for labor, civil and gender rights and the AIDS crisis. The app combines storytelling, music and images.

“This app-based audio tour gives visitors a new, multi-layered way to experience the cathedral, whether they are visiting in person or exploring from home,” said the Rev. Malcolm Clemens Young, dean of the cathedral. “GraceGuide takes visitors on a journey that can be entertaining, educational, artistic, spiritual or reflective, depending on which tour is chosen. We commissioned this app so that the thousands of people who visit every week from the city, the Bay Area and all over the world will feel even more at home at Grace Cathedral and find it even easier to explore, discover and experience. We especially wanted a children- and family-focused component.”

The GraceGuide app features a 30-minute “Highlights” tour for adults, showcasing historical photos, revealing maps, and the cathedral’s neo-Gothic architecture. Other selections are a special welcome to the cathedral by the Bishop of California Marc Handley Andrus, and music for reflection.

GraceGuide also offers “Cathedral Quest,” a 30-minute scavenger hunt for kids and families. Young visitors are given a series of clues to find 10 secret treasures in the cathedral.  For example, the Quest encourages kids to dip their fingers in the water of the baptismal font and to find and open the secret compartment concealed in one of the cathedral’s antique chairs.

“GraceGuide is intended to enhance the visitor experience by making the cathedral’s story even more memorable and engaging,” said Christine Murray, senior content designer for Antenna. “The beauty of this audio content is that it’s powerfully diverse.  We’ve intertwined sound and touch to build mental imagery and a fun ‘eyes-up’ experience for kids. And for the visitor looking for a more serene experience, there’s reflective music that they can access to simply ponder the beauty of the architecture.”

“Antenna staff really immersed themselves in our mission, identity and history to create the app,” Katherine Thompson, canon director of development said.  “Antenna has unmatched experience and expertise and we consider them a wonderful partner.”

The GraceGuide app is free to download and is currently available for both iOS and Android devices.