A cellphone app designed by a Wellington couple to provide exposure to photographers, artists and museums is starting to pick up traction overseas.

Excio is an app that provides a constantly changing array of home screen backgrounds on mobile devices, including pieces of art from some galleries in the US.

The difference between this app and others is that it provides the background for the images - users can swipe down to find out the name of the piece and the artist or photographer. From there they can read a brief description of the story behind the picture, and see more from that person.

Ana Lyubich, who co-founded the app with her partner Vlad Dolgov, wanted to bring "beautiful, meaningful and stimulating images" to people's homes screens.


"It's not just about the images, it's also about the stories behind them," she said.

"We give our app users the option to explore what is actually behind the image. When you see something captivating that's great and you love it, people want to learn more about it.

"The whole concept was conceived around the idea that every day we are bombarded by hundreds, if not thousands of images, particularly on our mobile devices, but we don't always know what the story or meaning is behind it. So you see a picture of a landscape, but where is it? Who took the photo?"

Users can personalise what they want to see and "follow" different channels.

Even Te Papa Museum and the Wellington City Library are getting behind the app, using it as a tool to show off art, exhibition items, and available books.

"The thing I like most about Excio for is that it gives us an opportunity to engage with both mobile users and our audience through a personalised set of all of our digitised imagery," said Te Papa's chief digital officer Melissa Firth.

"It takes our wide collection out of storage and makes them available to not only those who visit the museum but to people's devices. I see it as a personalised tool for visual discovery."

Upper Hutt's Staglands Wildlife Reserve has also teamed up with Excio to help reach out to users and share the conservation message.

Manager Sarah Purdy believed using their nature pictures on the app would help them connect with the "youth market", who had traditionally been harder to engage, in relation to conservation.


Purdy said it would help keep more people informed on what Staglands was doing to save rare and endangered New Zealand species.

Lyubich said the app was a great way for photographers to showcase their work.

"You just put your work up there and whoever likes what you're doing, they're going to see your works on the screen."

Her dream was to have the app operating on as many mobile devices in the world as possible, and to give exposure to photographers and collections "that currently don't have the chance to be really exposed".

Excio was also a finalist in the 2017 Wellington Gold Awards.

"We had such great support from the local Wellington startup scene, so it is really fantastic to know that people see the potential of the app and [it] is very encouraging for us," Lyubich said.

The app was launched in May, and so far has about 200 users, and about 2000 different backgrounds to cycle through.