News / USA

Art Museums Go Digital For the Wired

Use of technology saves space, attracts new visitors

Using a smart phone with a camera and a special app, National Museum of the American Indian visitors can scan a smart tag graphic which takes them to links on the museum’s site.
Using a smart phone with a camera and a special app, National Museum of the American Indian visitors can scan a smart tag graphic which takes them to links on the museum’s site.

Multimedia

Susan Logue

The Luce Foundation Center for American Art is not your typical museum. It’s an open storage facility at the Smithsonian American Art Museum which houses 3,300 works of art, leaving little room for written information.

"All the interpretation has to be digital and we have a great deal of it," says Georgina Goodlander, who was tasked with finding a way to get around the space problem.

Her solution allows visitors to access information about the works and the 1,200 artists who created them at one of 10 computer stations located throughout the space.

"We have hundreds of videos, audio clips, additional photographs, all kinds of cool stuff," says Goodlander. "But the one downside of those is you have to walk away from the artwork and sit down at a kiosk, so you are no longer looking at the artwork anymore "

An audio tour was the solution to that problem. Information on almost 200 works is accessible on cell phone or mp3 players provided by the museum.

"They will take out the device for a couple of hours and go on the audio tour," says Goodlander. "The cell phone is for more casual users I think."

At the National Gallery of Art, visitors listen to the curator telling them about Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Ginevra de’Benci.

Recorded tours have been part of the National Gallery since the 1960s, but digital technology gives visitors more freedom. They can borrow an mp3 player at no cost and choose which works they want to learn more about by punching in a code.  

"We offer it in English and five foreign languages," says Lynn Russell, head of the gallery's education department. "And we have just developed something that has shown itself to be extremely popular."

That would be an audio tour designed for children which features 50 works in the collection, like the Shaw Memorial by 19th century American artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens, which attracted John Gordy and his 11-year-old son Max.

Digital technology gives National Gallery of Art visitor Max Gordy, 11, more options as he listens to an audio tour.
Digital technology gives National Gallery of Art visitor Max Gordy, 11, more options as he listens to an audio tour.

Max enjoyed the audio tour. "It gives you tons of background information. It makes you think of it a lot more."

"It is really huge to have stuff geared to young people," says his father, John, "because his attention span is really good, but it wavers after a while."

The audio tours are popular , but you must borrow the player.

"Our reception isn’t good everywhere inside these big stone marble buildings," says Russell. "Until we can ramp that up a little bit, I think using one’s own device, either a cell phone or a smart phone, just doesn’t seem to be the option that works best for visitors."

Inside the National Museum of the American Indian, visitors are invited to use their cell phones and smart phones in one exhibit. Symbols alongside artworks indicate additional material that's accessible through those devices.  

This graphic is a QR code or smart tag. Using a smart phone with a camera and a special app, visitors scan the graphic, and they're taken to links on the museum’s site.   

Jason Wigfield, the museum’s web developer, says smart tags provide him with information, too.

"I can see how many times one particular object is scanned versus others. So it is very good in measuring metrics on some of our visitors’ activities in relationship to viewing objects."

There are still those who just want to look at the art and they can. But museums will increasingly offer options like smart tags for those who want more.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid