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ArtBabble: Back and Bigger than Ever

Today is the big day – the day we relaunch ArtBabble to the world. After six months of surveying, planning and designing and one wild 24 hour #babblesprint, I couldn’t be happier to share the fruits of our labor with our loyal followers. I hope you love the changes as much as we do.

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ArtBabble 24 Hour Sprint

As ArtBabble turned three this past spring, the ArtBabble Team at the IMA convened and started to think about all of the major changes we wanted to make to the site. This summer the team, which consists of IMA Lab developers, designers, educators and producers, got to work planning the redesign, including establishing a new brand and getting a staging site running to start transferring content.

Inspired by SmallBox‘s 24 Hour Web Project, we decided (perhaps foolishly) to hold a 24 hour sprint to implement the new ArtBabble. This gives the nine of us a chance to collaborate closely on the project, as well as do focused work without other office issues interrupting. We decided to get away from our usual space, and are excited to be sprinting at the Speak Easy, an awesome co-working space in Broad Ripple.

So finally, today is the day! The sprint is upon us, and we have gathered with much caffeine to babble our little hearts out.

The team sets up and gets to work.

Charlie Moad, Director of IMA Lab, and I will be live blogging the progress here, so check back for updates or follow us on twitter at @ArtBabble. We guarantee some middle-of-the-night dance party madness and at least a few shots of us eating pizza.

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“Beauty & Belief”

What are the physical manifestations of faith? How does what we believe affect the objects that we use in our everyday life?

The IMA’s opening of Beauty & Belief today brings more than 250 works of art to Indianapolis for a survey of Islamic art that spans the globe and sixteen centuries. It’s the first show of its kind in Indianapolis and an important window into a new world for the people of Indianapolis. In between meetings in a busy installation schedule, I sat down with curator Sabiha al Khemir to discuss the themes of the exhibition and she shared some core concepts for visitors to the show. You can check out the series of videos about Beauty & Belief here.

We also have two works of art from our collection in the exhibition, a luminous blue bowl covered with a parade of animals and a bowl fragment with a painted horse and rider.


Becoming Hyperopic

This started out as a post about four collection videos we released last week (you can view those here, here, here and here.) It morphed into a missive on what we produce and why. Hope you enjoy!

When planning digital media projects, it is easy to get caught up in the sensational exhibition cycle at a museum. We hop from one new topic to the next and always work on an exciting new initiative for the next big show. The IMA’s media team has managed to churn out hundreds of video and audio productions, including trailers, interviews, lectures, documentaries, and nine unique TAP mobile tours in three years. Much of this work is focused around our exhibition schedule, with the tours alone consisting of dozens of videos, audio clips and images that focus on the themes, artists and artworks of the special exhibitions.

Realization! Special media dies with special exhibitions

What we came to realize, however, is that when these shows leave the museum, a lot of the value of these precious stories (and the time invested in them) leaves with the loaned objects. The videos and tours take hundreds of hours to produce, assemble and deploy, but at the end of the day, it’s for an experience with an expiration date. Like most museums, we have limited resources for production, so we need our media output to have the most impact and the longest shelf life possible. We were falling for the lure of the short news cycle.

Change of thinking to more long-term (or hyperopic) view

In an attempt to shift our focus to the more long-term, about a year ago we began working on creating content around works from our permanent collection. Not a mind-blowing revelation, but an important pivot for the ‘mission’ of our team. As this has become more second-nature, the goal of creating as much multi-use content as possible became evident. Our approach to modular content means we can use the resulting product in a variety of ways: on collection pages, in exhibition microsites, and for future mobile tour experiences.We only produce projects with a clear vision of how it will be published through these channels.

Positive benefits from a year of this thinking at IMA

Within TAP tours, we focus (when possible) on telling stories about works owned by the IMA. Part of this process involves careful planning to maximize time with our experts. When we sit down with curators or conservators for other projects, I always take  a few minutes to have them speak about a work or two from their collection area. A great example is the video we made featuring curator Ellen Lee discussing the IMA’s Bonnard La Glace de la Chambre Verte (Mirror in the Green Room). We had Ellen in the studio to record segments for the Snapshot TAP tour, and so we spent some time discussing a few IMA pieces. The result is a video that can be used for many years to come about a beloved work in our collection.

The benefits to our visitors are many and will compound over time. We have produced about 30 collection-related videos in the past year, with more in production every month. It has become part of our working model and an important vision for the Publishing and Media department. We updated the layout of our collection pages to feature more and different types of media, including articles and excerpts, videos, images, and external links. As we continue to update and enhance collection pages on our website as we create this content, we create the groundwork for future in-gallery mobile experiences and tours.

Why this is important to Museums everywhere

Museums are places where hyperopic thinking fits naturally within the larger goals of our work. Our curators and conservators work to stretch the life of physical objects out as long as possible. We think about being stewards of objects for generations. Shouldn’t the stories associated with those objects last as well? As museum technologists, how can we incorporate this kind of long-term thinking into our everyday work? If museums think about the variety of stories around objects as intrinsic to the life of the object itself, we can build models for preserving the stories and continuing to find new ways of delivering this core content to our visitors.


Celebrating Sixties Fashion

What unspoken messages do First Ladies send with fashion? And how did the unforgettable Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy break the mold to present her husband’s candidacy and presidency as progressive and modern?

On September 13, 2012 the IMA’s Fashion Arts Society hosted design historian Sandy McLendon, former contributor and senior editor at Modernism Magazine, for a lecture on the influential “Jackie Look.” McLendon took attendees through a visual tour of Jackie’s strategic choices: hiring Hollywood costume designer Oleg Cassini; embracing the slim sheath dress and fuss-free pillbox hat; and selecting—down to the detail—trim, elegant gowns suitable for superpower diplomacy.

FAS members turned out in their fabulous finery for the event, wearing hats, gloves and fur to celebrate mod sixties fashion.

Even if you couldn’t make it to the event, you can still watch it on ArtBabble or YouTube. I won’t judge you if you break out your pillbox hat for viewing, either.


About emily

Title: Media Project Coordinator

Emily has written 35 articles for us.