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Curating your own Experience
Cleveland Museum of Art
Dates
Dec 2010-Jan 2013
Studio
Local Projects
Role
UX/UI Design, Content Development

In an era of blockbuster exhibitions, museum collections appear boring in comparison. Reduced visitorship to permanent collections and neglected online databases proved it. For the Cleveland Museum of Art however, I set out to make the act of browsing an art database into a more personal and active experience, one that would not only inspire and promote discovery but also guide visitors to their new favorites within the museum.

In what the New York Times called an 'unprecedented experience' the resulting Gallery One was the first large-scale demonstration of its kind to show how museums can successfully integrate technology to enhance our experience and understanding of art.

The mantra of art museums: Be quiet. Be careful. Don't touch. If you're especially curious, put your hands behind your back or in your pockets for good measure. Here, the viewing experience becomes engaging and interactive through the sophisticated use of technology. Well done. I can't wait to visit.

SEGD Jury Committee

The crown jewel of Gallery One is the Collection Wall which at 40-feet long was the largest interactive multi-touch wall to exist. Dynamically driven by the museum's database and updated through a flexible CMS, it allowed the museum to visualize all 4,000 works on display.

Success for the wall partly depended on its ability to introduce and recommend new artworks. Algorthmic templates allowed certain views to be populated with fresh artworks based on metadata with dynamic layouts based on each theme's selections. Human curation however, makes the story stronger. Additional layouts were also hand-designed according to the content and theme; geometry across textiles and sculpture, the expansive horizon as its portrayed across different paintings, to name a few.

ArtLens, your curation, your guide

Saving your favorite artworks onto your device can than be turned into a custom-made tour. The award-winning ArtLens app, designed for both iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android, uses an indoor wayfinding system and custom algorithm to not only provide the best order with which to view your favorites but to serve you up relevant media and information as well.

The structure of the app is based on two main motivations for moving through the museum, wandering (off-the-rails) and guided (on-the-rails), easily allowing visitors to flip between both.

Information Seekers: Seek out specific information

Navigators: Tour through your Favorites

Wanderers: What's near you now

Process

The Collection Wall is essentially a content engine, its architecture is such that each view is a curated collection and each artwork a gateway to other collections and recommendations. Curation in itself is a form of creative exercise. And while the role of the curator remains integral to the experience, I wanted to provide a way for visitors to circumvent prescribed paths and explore their own personal tastes and preferences.

My natural starting point was to take a hard look at the artworks themselves. Weighting and frequency were assigned based on human assessment of the quality of matches we could achieve. Ultimately, the architecture of the Collection Wall is derived from several algorithms that I architected to provide evergreen and relevant recommendations.

Image © The New York Times

Collection Wall and Artlens are both paradigms that continue to be used as case studies in various interaction programs, paving the way for designing and developing multi-user interactions at large scales and providing a content structure that continues to provide evergreen recommendations.

Selected Awards
  • SEGD Top 20 Most Influential Exhibit Designs this Century
  • D&AD Gold
  • SEGD Honor Award (Gallery One)
  • IxDA Awards Finalist, Engaging Category (Gallery One)
  • MUSE Gold (Artlens)
  • Museums and the Web Best Mobile App (Artlens), Best Interactive (Collection Wall), Game Changer: Honorable Mention (Gallery One)
  • Edison Awards Content Design (Collection Wall) and (Artlens)
Interactives
  • Collection Wall (20 ft x 40 ft microtiles)
  • Artlens App (iPad, iPhone, Android)
Deliverables
  • Wireframes (static and animated)
  • Annotations
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • User Flows
  • Content Analysis
  • Information Architecture
  • Program Architecture