The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded $1.87m to 12 art museums today as part of an initiative to help institutions experiment with new ways of using digital tools to improve the visitor experience.
Among the proposals selected from more than 100 submissions is Lumin, a mobile app tour of the Detroit Institute of Arts that uses augmented reality and 3D animations to guide visitors through the museum. Andrea Montiel de Shuman, the DIA’s digital experience designer, said the $150,000 grant from Knight allows the museum to expand Lumin and it will soon include an exploration of the symbolism and detail in Diego Rivera’s monumental mural that covers the inner court. The museum can also now purchase 150 smart devices for free public use.
The grant also provides some recognition for the project. At first, there were concerns that the device would distract from the actual viewing of art or be used only as a game and lead to people bumping into objects. But Lumin has proven to be both safe and effective. “We are finding with research that it is working,” she said. “Visitors are engaging in completely new ways so they are actually observing more.”
Victoria Rogers, the Knight Foundation’s vice president for the arts, said that the grant programme was guided as much by a desire to help museums find ways to remain relevant as by a belief in the power of art to inspire and connect. “People want those experiences to be personalised, interactive and shareable, just as they experience their daily lives,” she says.
The other museums awarded grants for their distinct projects are: the Akron Art Museum, The Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia), the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; the Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Mint Museum (Charlotte, North Carolina); the Museum of Arts and Sciences (Macon, Georgia); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the New Museum (New York); the Pérez Art Museum (Miami); and the Vizcaya Museums and Gardens (Miami).