Everything You Need To Know About The New White House Historical Association App

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Cuseum recently made headlines in CNN, ABC, NPR, and beyond for the launch of the White House Historical Association’s new app, “WHExperience” created in partnership with Amazon Web Services! The White House is one of the most iconic national landmarks that draws an impressive crowd (upwards of 100,000 visitors annually!). The White House Historical Association was founded in 1961 by First Lady Jackie Kennedy as a nonprofit and non-partisan organization, with a mission to “protect, preserve, and provide public access to the rich history of America’s Executive Mansion.” With the support of both the Secret Service and the National Park Services, the WHHA has enabled visitors to enjoy the White House’s rich history; however, the new app “WHExperience,” has extended that mission into the digital world to create an engaging and educational experience for all!

The Nitty-Gritty:

The app, which went live in early June, allows users to take immersive, guided tours of the White House and the surrounding neighborhood. The app features three different tours: the White House companion tour designed to complement an in-person visit, a neighborhood walking tour, and a virtual tour of the White House that can be accessed remotely. This allows users to enjoy the tour even if they can’t make it in person! 

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Further, the app even offers a feature that allows users to take a selfie and find out which President or First Lady they most resemble! According to GeekWire’s recent article, “the feature relies on Amazon Rekognition, a deep learning-based image and video analysis tool.” 

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In addition to its rich content, the app also illustrates how museums and cultural institutions are utilizing technology to create an engaging visitor experience. Stewart McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association expanded on this idea in his recent keynote address at the AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington DC. Watch the full presentation here.  

In the Press: 

In bringing greater awareness to the ongoing conversation around how technology can be leveraged in the cultural sector, it has garnered the attention of both national and international press. The app has been featured in leading publications such as CNN, ABC, The Washington Post, and Geekwire, just to name a few! Additionally, The First Lady released an official statement at the time of the app’s launch.  

From the First Lady’s Official Statement: 

"Thank you to the White House Historical Association, Amazon Web Services, and Cuseum for their creative and innovative collaboration in designing this app. Whether people are visiting in-person or virtually, this new feature offers a chance for everyone to see many of the mansion's wonderful and historic rooms - including the residence, the East Wing, and the West Wing." 

Read the full press release here.  

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Putting it to the Test: 

As reporter Sadie Dingfelder from The Washington Post found out when she visited the White House, the experience does not include a guided tour and can be overwhelming at times. She delves into her experience in an article aptly titled, “Is a White House tour worth the wait?” In her piece, she outlines how visitors can make the most of White House experience by using the White House Historical Association app. From the article:  

“As it turns out, you have to be your own guide at the White House. The officials stationed around the building are there, primarily, to keep you off the furniture. They’ll answer your questions, but if you’re feeling shy, or don’t know enough to even ask good questions, I recommend downloading a new app called White House Experience.” 

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The Takeaway:  

By providing an engaging platform that will be accessible to a larger audience, the WHExperience app offers something for everyone! As Cuseum’s Founder & CEO Brendan Ciecko remarked in an interview with the Boston Business Journal, "It’s really fascinating to look how, at the end of the day, history and culture can shine through," Ciecko said. "This (app) is here for public enjoyment and public education.”

As technology continues to make its way into the cultural sector, we are thrilled to take part in a project that both illustrates how technology can be leveraged across industries and presents users with an engaging, immersive, and educational experience!  

The app is available to download for free from both the App Store and the Google Play Store.

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