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Placing digital into the physical

New Media, Developers, our IT staff, members of the Design Studio, and Marketing are currently working on a new space in the museum.  It’s an area that in the past has experimented with visitor-focused technology.  Some of these projects have included an interactive approach to exploring highlights of IMA’s collection, a chance to interact with Asian objects in a dream-like, 3-D environment, and the opportunity to explore the Roman Forum, virtually of course.

The X Room, shortly after the IMA reopened in 2005

The X Room, shortly after the IMA reopened in 2005

2009 will bring a new approach to this tech environment, that I hope encourages our museum visitors to talk back to us.

We have a couple of strategies in place here.  For one, we’ll be showcasing a large portion of the video art content we produce, in a theater-like environment.  I’ve always been critical of the traditional museum orientation video space, because I’m not convinced our visitors want to sit through a 10-minute introductory video that essentially, is a one-way, passive form of communication (I know I don’t).  To counter this, we’re going to offer our visitors choices.  You will be able to search our video collection and then hear directly from experts in the art field and excitingly, directly from contemporary artists.  The choices will be at your fingertips, and the viewing experience will go beyond traditional methods (sort of top secret at the moment).  Did I mention that those choices will include artists like Maya Lin, Robert Irwin and much, much more?

We really do want to hear honest feedback from our visitors, so we’re also installing a series of computers that will allow to access our images on Flickr, our collection online (not as good as the real thing, but we have more art viewable online), and access to this blog.  All of these applications will allow tagging and comments.  We also know that we have good readership on the IMA blog, but I’m intrigued to see what will happen when any of our IMA – museum (not online) visitors have the opportunity to read blog posts and comments.  I’m sure a lot of our visitors are unaware that we have such a diverse online presence.

In 2007 for the exhibition Nature Holds My Camera: The Video Art of Sam Easterson, we debuted a similar strategy where visitors could ‘talk back’ in the gallery.  They could, in a blog-style design, ask questions directly to Sam.  It was a big success and I hope we have similar participation in this new environment.

Live blogging from the gallery

I’ll keep you posted on this space, but in the meantime I would love to hear feedback about your thoughts –

  • about art and interpretive technology
  • museums that incorporate technology into gallery areas
  • and if you think we will get more feedback by providing computers in the museum

…talk back!

Filed under: New Media, Technology

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