Our Observations

Technology is changing how people experience art and museums.

19 August 2019

Technology is changing how people experience art and museums.

Photo credit: Cleveland Museum of Art 

When was the last time you visited a gallery? A museum? How was your experience?

Art displays in galleries are designed to be intimate with guests, to ignite conversations about the artistic processes used or artist’s interpretations, and to invite potential buyers. Museums are designed similarly, exhibits are put together in a way that guests will enjoy it visually and talk about it when they leave. However, technology is rapidly changing these experiences on a different level. Augmenting the current way people visit galleries and museums with new experiences. Technology connects guests to art pieces or exhibits using mobile or installed hardware on a personal level. Breaking the physical barriers and allowing visitors to explore what more can the gallery or museum offer and transforming audiences to participants in any art gallery or exhibits.

“It’s another vehicle, another tool we can use to help visitors find personal meaning in art.”

-Jennifer Czajkowski on Technology is changing how visitors experience museums (Detroit Museum of Art)

More and more people prefer to spend their money on experiences such as art galleries and museums. In this article, we will explore several technologies that galleries and museums are offering to enhance the experience that their visitors are getting and as curators or artists, how technology can help their business.

Immersive guided tours using mobile phones.

Guided tours are the oldest form of technology that museums and art exhibits use to help their guests navigate around. Visitors can bring their headphones and plug into a specific area where they can listen to recorded commentaries. It offers extra auditory experience to visitors, helping them understand better the piece or display. With the rise of smartphones, guided tours improved with immersive experiences through audio and interactive displays on mobile phones.

Photo credit: Shannon Stapleton/ Reuters

Detroit Museum of Art, for example, allows guest to listen to a recorded poem written by the artist while the guest browses through the art pieces designed by the same author.

A previous exhibition at DIA includes video interviews, audio, comparative images, a music playlist, and audio descriptions of a selection of works for those with vision impairment in its guided tours.

In Louvre in Paris, visitors can bring their Nintendo 3DS XL and listen to their audio tour, browse through their 3D photos and navigate around through their maps.

Augmented reality on mobile phones.

Augmented reality is the newest form of guided tours. Visitors can point through art pieces or museum exhibits and interactive related contents will appear on their mobile phones. It encourages visitors to use the content provided for them to learn more about the art or facts about an exhibit.

Smithsonian is one of the leading institutions in using technology to enhance visitor experiences. They offer several mobile apps that visitors can download before visiting any Smithsonian exhibit. Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers, for example, provides information about art pieces with high-quality images, video, audio and even commentaries from the artists when you use the app inside the museum.

An app developed using Google Tango an augmented reality platform helped Detroit Institute of Arts provide visitors a guided tour using AR as they walk through the museum.

“It’s a game changer for connecting people with their museum in a new and amazing way,”

-David Lerman, Developer of DIA’s mobile application.

Photo credit: Andy Morrison

Real-time video tours.

Art galleries and museums now offer remote video tours for those who can’t go to these places. It’s the simplest yet immersive way for art and museum enthusiasts to experience pieces and displays, virtual guests can connect with curators and even artists. Giving them extra medium to showcase their work of art and making their audiences participants in their exhibitions. The use of Facetime became a tool for small time artists to showcase their art without renting expensive spaces.

An art space for example in Queens, New York called Kimberly-Klark curated an exhibit with some collaborations from local artists through Skype and Facetime.They invited several artists, borrowed their art pieces and displayed it in a small space. Guests were able to experience art pieces through a video call, a staff walks them through the mini gallery discussing the art pieces according to the artist’s description of the pieces.

Virtual excursions have also been a big hit for schools who want to let their students experience art remotely. They use video calling platforms to introduce art to students. Museum of Contemporary Art in Australia, for example, offers this kind of service. Anyone who wants to experience art pieces from MCA can connect virtually anywhere they are with the artists and curators for interactive workshops done through video conference.


Join the Artfundi community to get our newsletters, blogs, sales tools and other resources to help your art business grow.