Smithsonian tries cell phone ads to draw tourists


NEW YORK – The Smithsonian Institution will try luring tourists into an upcoming art exhibit by sending advertisements to visitors’ cell phones.

The Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery are trying out a system that sends messages to cell phones with Bluetooth technology. The messages will be sent from bus shelters in Washington’s pedestrian-heavy areas.

A message from the Smithsonian will appear on screen, and those who accept it will receive a free image similar to ads posted at the bus stops.

Mobile ads are used widely in Europe and Asia, but are a first for the Smithsonian. Museum spokeswoman Amanda Williams says they want to target younger audiences.

The museums are promoting the Asian art exhibit “Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur,” which opens Oct. 11 and runs to early January.