2018 Beneficiary: Philadelphia Museum of Art

Art, Technology, and Innovation
Sustaining the Museum’s Digital Transformation

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is in the midst of a digital transformation to better meet the needs and expectations of technology-savvy 21st-century visitors in our galleries and online. This area of our work will directly benefit from the 2018 Antiques & Art Show.

We increasingly rely on technology to share our collection and scholarship with an ever-widening audience. Well over half of the Museum’s distinguished collection of 240,000 works of art is available online, giving people access to the masterpieces in our care at anytime from anywhere. It used to be that you could only discover and experience works from the collection if you were physically in the galleries while a given object was on view. Your support will help us give every object a digital life, and apply the latest technologies to create digital interpretive tools to realize our mission and more deeply engage with our visitors today, as we prepare for the future.

Over the last five years, we have made major strides toward the integration of technology in the galleries. These developments move the needle as we strive to accomplish our strategic goals, including activating the collection and enhancing the visitor experience. Today’s audiences expect an integrated digital experience that complements the collection in innovative and inspiring ways, while helping to plan visits, attend programs, make restaurant reservations, and find their way around the building.

Through pioneering tools including interactive digital kiosks, touchscreens, and our A is for Art Museum app—winner of the 2016 MUSE Gold Award by the American Alliance of Museums—we are creating new ways to access the collection, look closer, and learn more about the works of art on view. With the advent of internal GPS technology, the Museum developed the A is for Art Museum app to guide children and families as they find their favorite objects throughout the galleries and provide activities once they are standing in front of the object. We have recently partnered with Apple to use their Apple Maps technology to expand the functionality and accuracy of this system. We continue to explore ways to use this indoor GPS network to provide wayfinding directional paths and assist visitors in locating amenities, while being reactive to visitor behavior with new levels of personalization.

Our annual Hackathon—which kicked off April 4 and concludes with winners announced at the Final Friday on May 25, 2018—offers the opportunity to engage the broader tech community in the development of collection-oriented apps by surfacing these technical resources and object data and encouraging friendly competition. Hackathon participants have prototyped apps that use these resources in ways that help inform our future development. We also have experimented with technologies like augmented reality, in our Chinese Temple gallery interactive, and virtual reality.

As we plan to introduce new galleries in 2020 and reinstall and reinterpret existing spaces, we look to technology as a vital way to connect visitors with the art and with each other. Our vision is grounded in the premise that our relationship with our visitors is a conversation, and that a visit to our galleries should be a shared exploration of all that our collection has to offer.