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The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gallery One, opened in January 2013, and, as the Gallery’s  website indicates, “features the largest multi-touch microtile 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 you to shape your own tours of the museum and to discover the full breadth of the collections on view throughout the museum’s galleries.”

Visitors of Gallery One can rent an iPad at the Museum for $5, or use their own,  to take advantage of ArtLens, the museum’s new app for iPad, which “allows you to personalize your experience at the museum. You can use ArtLens to delve into layers of interpretative content on a variety of works in the collection.”  With this new app,  you can enjoy over nine hours of additional multimedia content, before, during, or after your visit to Gallery One.

The application has five main features:

  • Near You Now – With the museum’s indoor wayfinding technology you can browse through the collection at a path you set in order to discover artworks that have interpretive content, such as film and audio, in any gallery.
  • Scanning – Not only does ArtLens recognize artworks in the collection seamlessly, but a special ‘iris’ icon indicates which artworks have interpretive content, only available on-site, which this feature offers access to.
  • Tours –  This mapping feature, allows you to select from both museum-created and visitor-created tours, and helps you locate specific artworks.
  • Today – Gives you daily snapshots of events in the museum.
  • Favorites – Not only can you save your favorite works and share them through Facebook or Twitter, but you can also share your own personalized tour.


The technology was created by Local Projects, who worked hand-in-hand with the curatorial staff to create compelling experiences where the tech wasn’t center-stage. To do that, Local Projects, who created the name-arrangement at the 9/11 Memorial, concluded that just to throw up exhaustive wall text would’nt work. According to an email from Jane Alexander, Director of Information Management and Technology Services at The Cleveland Museum of Art, in addition to using Local Projects,

The development of Gallery One and Art Lens represents a true and equal collaboration among the curatorial, information management and technology services, education and interpretation, and design departments at the Cleveland Museum of Art. All of the technology pulls dynamically from CMA’s collection cataloguing management systems and digital asset management systems and all the social media shares pull from CMA’s online collection. All of the systems were designed in-house. CMA worked with multiple vendors, and Zenith Systems was our AV integrator — without them the Collection Wall would never have been possible.

Look at this advice from two experts in the field:

Sandy Goldberg, of sgscripts, creates audio and multimedia experiences for a wide variety of platforms and for cross-platform use for museums in the US, UK and Europe. Her impressive list of clients include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Modern, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and The Van Gogh Museum, among others. In the chapter she authored, “Content for all Kinds: Creating Content that Works On- and Off-Site Visitors,” from the book, Mobile Apps for Museums: The AAM Guide to Planning and Strategy (Ed. Nancy Proctor, The American Alliance of Museum Press, 2012), she advises,

Just because it’s true doesn’t mean it’s interesting.
Creating experiences: avoiding content fragmentation. Yes, you want to be able to use content on different platforms and in different configurations, and have the content work for on-and off-site visitors. But even as you are creating for ‘platform agnostic’ content, beware of producing completely isolated ‘bites’. Fragmented blocks of content that don’t refer to each other create a disjointed, emotionally unsatisfying experience. There won’t be strong memories of the content, and there won’t be a connection felt to your exhibition or museum. To avoid this, use large ideas and themes as threads that can tie your content together no matter what the user’s path through it. Think about ideas that are seminal to your museum’s mission or collection. Take another step outwards and think about how those ideas can resonate in the larger intellectual and cultural spheres. Using large ideas will mean that no matter how your content is being encountered now or reconfigured later, the individual pieces of content will actually add up to something. This is what creates a meaningful user experience; one that resonates and is remembered.

Cliff Kaung, is design editor at Fast Company and the founding editor of Co.Design, which in 2011 won the National Magazine Award for best online department, and draws over 2 million readers a month. In his article in Fast Company, he points out that,

The greatest mistake any interaction designer can make is to presume that the audience is willing to invest time learning some new-fangled bit of tech. Just think of the last time you played with a new smartphone app, played with it for 10 seconds, and never opened it again. Complexity kills; so does simplicity without a nice payoff.

Kaung continues, “The most basic failing of so many design projects: Even as the designers go wild with the technology, they never stop to consider what anyone who doesn’t care about that technology would stand to gain. ”


The Cleveland Museum of Art and all of their vendors have hit the objectives of the two experts above, Sandy Goldberg and Craig Kaung, right on the head in creating Gallery One and ArtLens! The Cleveland Museum joins an impressive and growing number of museums who have seized the challenge of Fine Art in the New Media, as noted in our Purpose Page.

We have written a number of pieces on e-museums on how museums have adopted New Media technology to their purpose of making art accessible. These prior posts included the Van Gogh Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, both the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay, ArtTube, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia. Overall, we continue to believe that museums are in the forefront of adapting New Media technology to their mission (see the blog piece, “e- Museums Leave e-Books in the Dust – A View from Two  Different Centuries“.
Here is an additional video which shows all the Gallery One interactives, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=qWJqd6lyJ-E. And you have to check out this video of The Cleveland Museum of Art’s technology creation on “Sculpture” in Gallery One.


  1. Very cool post this week. Enjoyed the “Sculpture”!

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