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Ai Weiwei: Art, Activism, and Technology

On April 5, Ai Weiwei: According to What?—the IMA’s latest featured exhibition—opened to the public. A major retrospective of the artist’s work, this not-to-be-missed exhibition includes examples from the broad spectrum of the artist’s practice, which encompasses sculpture, photography, video, and site-specific architectural installations, as well as the design for the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Walking past some of the works in the show, visitors may be inspired to learn more about the man who created these pieces and the circumstances that drove him to do so. In conjunction with the exhibition, the IMA is employing new in-gallery technology to facilitate these inquiries and help audiences engage with the work of this extraordinary artist.


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Filed under: Exhibitions, New Media, Technology


A Brand New

Today, the IMA launches it’s first major refresh of its website since its initial launch in February 2010. The refreshed site includes an updated information architecture, a minimal, responsive design, and loads of new content.


The new

The redesign centers around a more structured hierarchy of information as well as a renewed simplicity around the site navigation and a refreshed appearance throughout. With mobile traffic on the rise, the responsive design makes the site accessible across a broad range of screen sizes and devices and provides a more seamless digital experience. Through the collaboration of the IMA’s digital production team, the site was built entirely in-house.

Though the refresh has been applied to most major sections of the site, some additional sections will continue to be updated over the next year, including areas devoted to the IMA’s collection and blog.

We’re excited to bring you expanded and more timely content on your favorite devices through our new website. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Filed under: Around the Web, Design, New Media, Public Programs, Technology


ArtBabble: Behind the Design

Last Tuesday, we launched a brand new website for ArtBabble.  Rita Troyer, Digital Graphic Designer in IMA Lab, discusses the design process:

The Brand

Since its launch in April 2009, ArtBabble has grown into something far greater than the original website it began as. It seemed only fitting to give the site and its visual identity a facelift given the ever growing nature of its content and partner reach.

In early July of this year, fellow IMA Lab designer, Matt Gipson and I set out to create several rebrand directions. After a few brainstorming sessions with take aways like “simpler,” “sleeker,” and “more vibrant,” the rebrand process was underway. We first nailed down our designs to two different directions and shortly thereafter, came up with our final approach.

Old logo on the left; Redesign on the right.

The new ArtBabble mark focuses on two things: streamlining and refining the brand, while maintaining elements of the original. ArtBabble’s purpose is to enable free flowing conversation, about art, for anyone. The new brand retains the play button, uses the eye catching Babble blue, and maintains the rounded typography, but with a matured feel. The color palette incorporates brighter, more vibrant colors, and with ArtBabble having just celebrated its third birthday, we felt that it was time to ditch the “Play Art Loud” tagline.

The Website

From the start of the website redesign process, the main goal was to come up with a design that had room to grow.  We wanted to plan for the site to evolve in the same capacity that it had over the past three years. Another goal was to design partner pages, artist pages, etc. so they could stand-alone. For some institutions, their ArtBabble Channel may be their main hub for video content. Therefore, their Partner Channel needed to work as a page that could be linked to directly as an outlet for their content. You’ll also notice that the redesign brings more of a visual presence to the videos and allows users to either dive into the material they are seeking, or browse casually. The new site structure brings ArtBabble’s amazing content to the forefront of a user’s experience.

Final homepage mockup

Mobile navigation mockup

Not only has the content of the site evolved over time, technology has evolved as well. The new, responsive design provides an optimal viewing experience for users no matter what device they’re on. Take a look here. Videos now play through players that are HTML5 compatible, making the video content accessible on desktops, tablets and mobile devices. The new ArtBabble is all about making content accessible wherever our audiences may be, on whatever device they may be using.

We couldn’t be more pleased with the way ArtBabble has grown since its launch in 2009.  We hope you enjoy the new logo and website redesign! Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Filed under: Design, New Media, Technology


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.

Filed under: Interviews, New Media, Technology



What does it mean to be passionate about culture in your city? How do you meet innovators working in different types of institutions when every day is focused on your own particular sliver (in my case, art and mobile tech) of the cultural pie? After seeing multiple posts from colleagues around the world about local meetups under the hashtag #drinkingaboutmuseums, I was intrigued and interested in making something similar happen in Indianapolis.

Time for a little research! I spoke to some of the founders of #drinkingaboutmuseums to see how their local “chapters” worked. Ed Rodley, of the Museum of Science, Boston, and author of the blog Thinking about Museums told me that in Boston, DAM:BOS meets monthly at a host museum for a presentation, and then moves to a bar for social time. Koven Smith of Denver Art Museum shared that the Colorado group meets irregularly, bar only, and uses to keep the group to museum professionals only.

Then I contacted the most social Indy museum person I know for a little backup, my IMA colleague Richard McCoy. Richard said that he had been having a similar conversation about building cultural community with Malina Jeffers of the Madame Walker Theatre Center. We met to discuss some ideas about hosting this kind of event in Indy: what were we trying to do? We know the museum and technology communities are small, but the greater arts and culture community is thriving. People are very passionate about culture in our city. We decided to expand the group from just museums to cultural organizations of all kinds and Indy’s #drinkingaboutculture was born. We also decided to meet only four or so times a year, keep it casual (read: at a bar), and with a short presentation about a local project to kick off conversation.

So, we hope you will join us tomorrow for a drink and to discuss cultural innovation in Indy!

Inaugural #drinkingaboutculture INDY

Tuesday, September 11, 5:30pm at Bourbon Street Distillery

Topic: Mali Jeffers of the Madame Walker Theatre Center will briefly introduce a collaboration with WFYI on a self-guided tour of the Theatre, led virtually by Mr. Ridley, a longtime docent. The fifteen minute presentation will be followed by a conversation/Q&A about the project.


Filed under: IMA Staff, Local, Museum Community, Technology


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