On January 21, 2013, the Cleveland Museum of Art opened Gallery One, a unique, interactive gallery that blends art, technology and interpretation to inspire visitors to explore the museum’s renowned collections. This revolutionary space features the largest multi-touch screen in the United States, which displays images of over 3,500 objects from the museum’s world-renowned permanent collection. This 40-foot Collection Wall allows visitors to shape their own tours of the museum and to discover the full breadth of the collections on view throughout the museum’s galleries.
Throughout the space, original works of art and digital interactives engage visitors in new ways, putting curiosity, imagination and creativity at the heart of their museum experience. Innovative user-interface design and cutting-edge hardware developed exclusively for Gallery One break new ground in art museum interpretation, design and technology.
“Gallery One offers an unparalleled experience for visitors of all ages,” said David Franklin, Sarah S. and Alexander M. Cutler Director. “The space connects art and people, art and ideas, and people with people. We’re thrilled to share this new space with the Northeast Ohio community, for both first-time and repeat visitors, and we are especially proud to lead the way internationally in using technology to enhance and customize the art museum experience.”
Visitors to Gallery One will discover new ways of interpreting the museum’s distinguished collection through a variety of hands-on and technology-based activities. Works of art from the permanent collection on view in the gallery, include masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Viktor Schreckengost, Giovanni Panini and Chuck Close. Games encourage visitors to see themselves in the collection, matching their faces to works of art or striking the poses of sculptures. In addition, touchscreen interactives and the museum’s new ArtLens iPad application allow visitors to explore how works of art were made, where they came from and why they were produced. At every turn, technology is used to bring visitors back to works of art and to open multiple perspectives on the collection.
“It’s very important to us that visitors interact with real objects, rather than digital reproductions,” said David Franklin. “We want visitors to look closely at original art works and to make personal connections to what they are seeing.”
“Technology is a vital tool for supporting visitor engagement with the collection,” adds C. Griffith Mann, Deputy Director and Chief Curator. “Putting the art experience first required an unprecedented partnership between the museum’s curatorial, design, education and technology staff.”
Comprised of three major areas, Gallery One offers something for visitors of all ages and levels of comfort with art. Studio Play is a bright and colorful space that offers the museum’s youngest visitors and their families a chance to play and learn about art. Highlights of this portion of Gallery One include: Line and Shape, a multi-touch, microtile wall on which visitors can draw lines that are matched to works of art in the collection; a shadow-puppet theater where silhouettes of objects can be used as “actors” in plays; mobile- and sculpture-building stations where visitors can create their own interpretations of modern sculptures by Calder and Lipchitz; and a sorting and matching game featuring works from the permanent collection. This space is designed to encourage visitors of all ages to become active participants in their museum experience.
In the main gallery space, visitors have an opportunity to learn about the collection and to develop ways of looking at art that are both fun and educational. The gallery is comprised of fourteen themed groups of works from the museum’s collection, six of which have “lens” stations. The “lens” stations comprise 46” multi-touch screens that offer additional contextual information and dynamic, interactive activities that allow visitors to create experiences and share them with others through links to social media. Another unique feature of the space is the Beacon, an introductory, dynamic screen that displays real-time results of visitors’ activities in the space, such as favorite objects, tours and activities.
One of the most unique and innovative aspects of Gallery One is the Collection Wall, a 40-foot, interactive, microtile wall featuring works of art from the permanent collection that rotates by theme and type, such as time period, materials and techniques, as well as curated views of the collection.
“The Collection Wall is a fulcrum between Gallery One and the permanent collection galleries,” said Caroline Goeser, Director of Education and Interpretation. “It displays the collection in a way that is constantly changing and evolving. You have a chance to see it differently depending on the perspective or theme that’s shown.”
The largest multi-touch screen in the United States, the Collection Wall utilizes innovative technology to allow visitors to browse these works of art on the Wall, facilitating discovery and dialogue with other visitors. The Collection Wall can also serve as an orientation experience, allowing visitors to download existing tours or curate their own tours to take out into the galleries on iPads. The Collection Wall, as well as the other interactive in the gallery, illustrates the museum’s long-term investment in technology to enhance visitor access to factual and interpretative information about the permanent collection.
“The Collection Wall powerfully demonstrates how cutting-edge technology can inspire our visitors to engage with our collection in playful and original ways never before seen on this scale,” said Jane Alexander, Director of Information Management and Technology Services. “This space, unique among art museums internationally, will help make the Cleveland Museum of Art a destination museum.”
In concert with the opening of Gallery One, the museum has also created ArtLens, a multidimensional app for iPads. Utilizing image recognition software, visitors can scan two-dimensional objects in Gallery One and throughout the museum’s galleries to access up to 9 hours of additional
multimedia content, including audio tour segments, videos and additional contextual information. Indoor triangulation-location technology also allows visitors to orient themselves in the galleries and find works of art with additional interpretive content throughout their visit.
Additionally, visitors will have an opportunity to dock their iPad, or one borrowed from the museum, at the Collection Wall. Visitors who use the Collection Wall to browse the collection can save their favorites to their iPad. These saved objects can then be combined into a customized tour, so visitors can direct their exploration of the collections on view in the museum’s permanent collection galleries. Curated tours by the museum’s director and staff as well as other visitors can also be found on the app.
“ArtLens allows the visitor to take the experience of Gallery One out in to the other areas of the museum,” said Caroline Goeser. “It brings in many voices and traditions from different cultures, as well as giving visitors a chance to see demonstrations of art making techniques by local artists. The content is layered so visitors can choose what interests them and discover new ways of looking at and interpreting the object. Their experience is guided by their own sense of curiosity and discovery.”
The museum partnered with several other companies to complete the project, including Local Projects (media design and development), Gallagher and Associates (design and development), Zenith (AV Integration), Piction (CMS/DAM development), Earprint Productions (app content development), and Navizon (way-finding).
Gallery One is generously supported by the Maltz Family Foundation, which donated $10 million to support the project. Additional support for the project comes from grants and other donations.