Hypermedia: A Closer Look at Gallery One

In January, the Channel 5 Cleveland news station covered a story about the new Gallery One at the Cleveland Museum of Art. One of the newscasters started the news story by saying, “Actually when you think of museums, you think about silent spaces where you stand back and you certainly don’t touch.”  The story on the new exhibition highlighted the museum’s high-tech, hands-on, and unique approach with their permanent collection.  The permanent exhibition holds about 3,800 works of art which can be intimidating and overwhelming for a museum visitor entering the museum (Alexander, Barton & Goeser, 2013). The Cleveland Museum of Art integrates new technologies to allow visitors to choose their own paths and interact with the art with innovative digital media with thousands of works of art at their fingertips.

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Children using one of the interactives at Gallery One
Photo Credit: Museums and the Web Website

To accompany the gallery, CAM developed an application for an iPad called ArtLens.  Guests can save their favorite works of art and it comes “loaded with video, audio, text, and still-image content (Alexander, Barton & Goeser, 2013).”  The app is a mobile hypermedia tool enabling the visitors to explore the museum.  The “Near You Now” function on the app empowers the visitor because it “allows visitors to browse and find digital interpretation of works of art they like based on proximity” and “rather than committing to a long, linear narrative (Alexander, Barton & Goeser, 2013).”  This function resonates with Ted Nelson’s (2001) 1970s article relating to hypermedia.  He says people do better when they “may establish impressions, jump around, and try different pathways until they find the ones they want to study more closely (p. 165).”  Visitors can look over the videos, audios, images, and texts to learn more about works of art that interests them.

art lens

A visitor using the ArtLens application
Photo Credit: Musuems and the Web Website

This type of hypermedia tool was once envisioned by Vannevar Bush in the 1940s.  He thought of a “memex,” a device that a person can store all their information into one central area and can be accessed at any time with “speed and flexibility (Bush, 2001, p.155).”  Visitors can also use iPads as a type of “memex” if they connect them to a dock at the 40 ft. Collection Wall. The Collection Wall is a visual display of the whole permanent collection with designated categories. At the visitor’s leisure, he or she can pick favorites by touching a multi-touch screen to add to the iPad and utilize it while navigating the gallery.

The visitor could come back to CAM and have a different personal experience every time. The interactives and Ipad app enables the visitor to freely explore the museum with friendly user interfaces.  The ability to have a mobile hypermedia device allows the visitor to discover new information instantaneously. Regardless of which interactive or app function a person chooses, the core content of the museum always ties together.  As Nelson (2001) states, “Everything is deeply intertwingled (p.164).”  The content is also “intertwingled” with the visitors who will engage in conversations with each other through a shared tour and/or in person in the gallery with the aid of the museum’s technology.

Alexander, J., Baron. J, & Goeser, C. (April 2013). Transforming the Art Museum Experience: Gallery One. Retrieved from http://mw2013.museumsandtheweb.com/paper/transforming-the-art-museum-experience-gallery-one-2/

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