Introducing a portal into your favorite museums and locations.

One of the most exciting facets of working on the Urban Archive app is testing new and exciting forms of engagement and digital storytelling. Our map-based approach to presenting New York City history situates users within the historical context of the entire city. With the tap of a finger, users can learn about the history of the locations that they pass every day.

A few screens from Urban Archive’s citywide view, featuring its new black pins.

Up until now, Urban Archive has focused on its citywide experience. The app currently features tens of thousands of purple pins on the map, all of which signify a historically relevant location. Each location includes historical content (photographs and audio) from our institutional partners. We’ve dreamt of giving users the ability to step into some of these locations for an immersive audio and visual experience.

Today, we are thrilled to place our first black pin on the map with the Museum of the City of New York.

This pin is a portal into the Museum, giving users the ability to engage with exhibitions that are currently on view. As you navigate through the gallery halls, this feature pushes additional audio commentary and close up views of artifacts on display to your device. In addition, the featured audio is available in multiple languages and transcribed for those who are hearing impaired.

Users can find black pins on the map, or if they’re in close proximity to the experience then a shortcut button will appear at the top of the app’s navigation (see left screen). Once users click into the black pin, they’ll be greeted by a design that’s been customized to the institution that assembled the experience.

Reasons Why We Are Excited

One, this feature gives you access to notes from museum curators, content experts and featured artists. (Dazzle your friends with expert-level knowledge of topics that are covered in the museum’s exhibitions.)

Two, this in-museum experience seamlessly integrates with Urban Archive’s citywide experience. Whether you are visiting a museum or brunching in Greenwich Village, you will never have to leave the app to get your hands on new historical content.

Museum iPods now run the black pin experience at the Museum of the City of New York.

Three, the black pin experience is designed to be dynamic, relevant, and flexible. It gives institutions the opportunity to create interactive and immersive experiences that can be updated in real time. In fact, within a matter of minutes, institutions can:

  • Add new tours and audio tracks
  • Update audio transcripts and exhibition commentary
  • Reorder lists with drag and drop functionality
  • Feature custom images with captions and credit information
Institutions have the ability to easily create and manage their black pin experience through our custom CMS. Updates are immediately pushed to the app.

When will more black pins be added?

We will be rolling out more black pins in stages, but the feature is currently available at Museum of the City of New York. In the weeks to come, we will expand to more sites, like the Museum at Eldridge Street in Chinatown. So give us a try: download Urban Archive, and stay tuned for more updates.

Also, if you are a historical institution in NYC and want to pilot this experience, drop us a line at 
We’d love to talk with you!