In most museums, manhandling exposition pieces will earn you a firm reprimand from the security guard or an expeditious exit from the premises. At the Cleveland Museum of Art, however, reaching out and touching the work of the masters isn’t only allowed, it’s encouraged.
|The Cleveland Museum of Art’s dynamic new video wall supports multi-touch, thanks to the Christie Interactivity Kit and RFID tags on iPad stations. Up to 16 people can interact simultaneously. Museum photos are courtesy of Local Projects.|
The Cleveland Museum of Art isn’t the only facility that’s striving to encourage people to engage with artworks through the application of AV tech. At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a combination of Planar display products (www.planar.com)—including the company’s Clarity Matrix Video Wall, PS Series LCD Displays, RA Series LCD Video Wall, EP Series Ultra HD Displays, and Helium Series Touch Screen Monitors—are positioned throughout the museum, providing visitors with information on art, as well as museum events and expositions.
Facilities managers are also exploring how they can engage visitors from the minute they step through the doors. The Auckland Museum in New Zealand addressed this a few years ago with the installation of a 12x7-foot, 4x4 video wall in its entrance. The 16 monitors are supported by two Matrox M9188 PCI Express x16 octal-monitor graphic cards.
|The Christie MicroTiles Display Wall System is built on DLP technology.|
In 2013, an exhibit in at the National Gallery of Art ignited the imagination of art and dance enthusiasts, and captured the attention of technologists, too. That’s because of the sophisticated systems utilized for the show titled “Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes 1909-1929: When Art Danced with Music.” To interpret the art and offer context for visitors, the NGA’s AV Services department suspended ten “shelves” in the display areas. Hanging down four-feet from the Gallery’s 16-foot ceilings, each shelf contains a digital video projector (a mix of units, including the Epson PowerLite Pro G5450), a BrightSign XD1230 digital video playback unit, digital amplifier (various, including Atlona ATPA100-G2s with remotely-controllable audio), SoundTube speakers (pointing downwards to the floor), and a Wi-Fi network connection.
The BrightSign XD1230s were loaded with historical ballet footage that related to the art within view, shown above the objects on walls that have been treated with projection screen paint. The painted screens range in size from six-to ten-feet in width. There were also Samsung 24-inch and 42-inch monitors in use, in areas where video projection was not practical. All of the units that used audio were equipped with Williams Sound TX238 infrared assistive listening systems.
|Inside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) where new technology is helping to engage and inform attendees. SF MOMA photos courtesy of Jeff Rumans Photography.|
“The Christie’s lens is brilliant: It allows us to horizontally shift a 35-foot wide image 14 feet from center without any keystone effect distortion,” Brian Dooda, NGA’s Audio Visual Systems Specialist during the exhibit, said. “The Firebird projection is huge (35-feet wide) from a reasonably short throw (45 feet). Most projectors do not allow much, or any, lens shift with this much zoom. The Christie [projector] permits 80-percent horizontal shift: This allowed us to locate the projector to the side of the cloth.”
All of the equipment was linked by network, to allow file updates to upload to the various video players without having to manually load in new DVDs. “Given that these players are suspended far overhead, being able to manage and modify them over our LAN is an incredible advantage,” said Vicki Toye, the NGA’s Audio Visual Services Supervisor. “This allows us to be far more flexible in supporting changes by curators and exhibition designers.”
While the “Ballet Russes” show is no longer on display at the NGA, the innovations in technology, including an AVB system, have inspired other museums, galleries, and showrooms to explore how they can apply AV technology to provide a fresh perspective.
Tech managers and facilities directors are looking for new ways to engage visitors, encourage interaction with the collections, and, in some cases, take the whole experience home with them (thus, hopefully, prompting them to return). Manufacturers and AV developers have stepped up to address their needs. These are among the latest solutions that their developers claim to be well-suited for gallery, museum, and showroom environments:
|Canon’s laser projection suite|
|LG’s 86BH5C Ultra Stretch Display in action.|
■ Peerless-AV offers many systems that lend themselves well to museum environments, and the new DS-VW775 is no exception. The SmartMount Supreme Full Service Video Wall Mount (DS-VW775) features new lateral micro-adjustments and convenient pop-out serviceability, is both lighter and easier to install and service. Ideal for creating video walls in retail, transportation, entertainment, and museum settings, the Supreme Mount was designed with integrators and end-users in mind to provide a solution that minimizes installation time and associated costs.
|Ricoh’s Digital Signage Solution|
|Sony’s Crystal LED Canvas|
Carolyn Heinze is a regular AV Technology contributor. Margot Douaihy is the editorial director of AV Technology. A portion of this feature is an update of our National Gallery of Art coverage.