Image via Michael F. McElroy, New York TimesThe system starts at a 40-foot touchscreen that allows visitors to view all of the art at the museum in postcard-sized photos. When a visitor selects one of the photos, it is enlarged and arranged on the screen with similarly themed art placed around the selected photo. Next to the photo is a heart-shaped icon that allows the visitor to transfer it to a favorites list on an iPad app. Visitors can bring their own iPads or rent one for $5 a day.
From the list of favorites, the user can devise a personalized tour, which can be shared with other users. “It’s very democratic. You can create a tour, and give it a funny name, and other people will follow it through the museum,” Mr. [David] Franklin [director of Cleveland Museum of Art] said. So far, more than 200 visitors have made their own tours, with names like “My new faves by Linda” and “Preston Loves Shadows.”The new technology is part of a $350 million expansion to the museum, which includes Gallery One where the 40-foot touchscreen displaying the museum's art is located.
The goal of the new program is to lure new visitors to the museum, although museum directors do note that there is a danger that users of the app could choose to stay home and admire the art on their iPads. Director Franklin cited this as a reason why they don't support the Google Art Project, which houses high-definition photos of art.
The museum plans to expand the program to iPhones and add new digital features in the future, while other museums such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and National September 11 Memorial Museum are planning to launch similar connectivity with iPads.