Gallery One, the First Year: Sustainability, Evaluation Process, and a New Smart Phone App

Jane Alexander, The Cleveland Museum of Art, USA


The Cleveland Museum of Art created Gallery One to build audiences by providing a fun and engaging environment for visitors with all levels of knowledge about art. Gallery One opened to the public, January 21, 2103 This session will address the three questions most frequently asked by colleagues: 1) Is the concept behind Gallery One working? We will take a look at the inaugural year of Gallery One. We will discuss gaming & playful experiences through the Gallery One Lenses. We will take a closer look at the ArtLens iPad app and share the museum's findings, including the audience research team's immersive study involving observations and intercept interviews with visitors. In addition, we will review analytics of the interactives, including the iPad app's onsite vs. offsite visitor experience, and discuss how the Collection Wall and ArtLens app are being utilized by visitors as tools for discovery and for creating new pathways through the museum's collections. 2) How can the museum sustain Gallery One? We will address the museum's digital media strategy, including 1) how the backend systems and staff workflows have been adjusted to maintain the "big data," and 2) support for operating costs, from content development to hardware. We will also speak to new content development strategies for the iPad app that ensure as many objects as possible have rich media interpretation. 3) What are the next steps? What is Gallery One 2.0? - We will discuss plans for refreshed art installations and interactive technology in Gallery One. We will demonstrate the museum's new ArtLens for iPhone and Android. We will also share our process in adapting the iPad app functionality and content to the smaller device. And we will show how the Collections Wall is being leveraged to promote major exhibitions, and as a tool for gauging visitor interest in themes under development for permanent collection installations, exhibitions, and educational program development

Keywords: analytics, multimedia installation, mobile application; interpretive interactive installation, augmented reality, interior wayfinding, image recognition, art museum, intergenerational learning

I.  Is Gallery One Working?

 As a truly new and innovative threshold experience, CMA’s Gallery One leverages great works of art and state-of-the-art interactive media to transform the traditional art museum experience into a playful and engagingly personal journey into museum collections.

– David Harvey, Senior Vice President for Exhibition – American Museum of Natural History

Designing Gallery One to Integrate Art and Technology

Gallery One is located just inside the main entrance to the museum. The gallery is composed of two spaces: the former special exhibition gallery in the Marcel Breuer addition and a portion of the Rafael Vinoly north wing. These spaces are very different in character. The Breuer is a large, free span hall. The Vinoly space is a low bright space that opens on to the atrium. We decided to take advantage of this and begin the experience in the former exhibition hall and conclude it with the large digital display of our collections in the one that addressed the atrium. With that, the team hoped, visitors would develop a tour on their iPads and head out to the galleries to experience the collections.

The Beacon is a 4-by-4-foot array of 55-inch Edgelit 1080p LED displays located at the lobby entrance to Gallery One. It plays a looping, non-interactive program displaying both dynamic and pre-rendered content. Content for "Dynamic" elements is pulled from the Sculpture Lens. Individual face pairs from visitors playing the "Make a Face" game on the "Sculpture" lens are assembled into photo strips, with each photo strip containing four face pairs. New visitor photo content is loaded in at the start of each loop, approximately every six minutes. Content for top favorites is pulled from the network API. 300w, 500w, 1920w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> The Beacon is a 4-by-4-foot array of 55-inch Edgelit 1080p LED displays located at the lobby entrance to Gallery One. It plays a looping, non-interactive program displaying both dynamic and pre-rendered content. Content for “Dynamic” elements is pulled from the Sculpture Lens. Individual face pairs from visitors playing the “Make a Face” game on the “Sculpture” lens are assembled into photo strips, with each photo strip containing four face pairs. New visitor photo content is loaded in at the start of each loop, approximately every six minutes. Content for top favorites is pulled from the network API.

The Breuer hall had been gutted early in the building project, but the beautiful granite floor was intact. The ceiling had been completely removed, exposing ductwork and plumbing. We left the ceiling exposed with a suspended grid of light track. The grid matches the original Breuer ceiling and provides Gallery One with needed flexibility for cabling and wifi. The team intended to make regular changes to the installations as we discovered what connected best with visitors, so the artwork was installed very simply with minimal construction to facilitate future changes.

The Focus Gallery is across from the Collection Wall at the end of Gallery One. The exhibitions are intended to center on one or a few objects and utilize some of the ideas about looking at art that are introduced earlier in Gallery One. In the future we plan to add an entrance to this gallery across from the Collections Wall to strengthen the connection between these spaces.

Gallery One is located just inside the Main Entrance to the Museum on level one. Spanning three levels, the Cleveland Museum of Art has 62 Galleries, 9 classrooms, an Atrium, Auditorium, 2 Lecture Halls, Cafe, Restaurant and a private club room open to the public. 300w, 500w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /> Gallery One (shaded green) is located just inside the Main Entrance to the Museum on level one. Spanning three levels, the Cleveland Museum of Art has 62 Galleries, 9 classrooms, an Atrium, Auditorium, 2 Lecture Halls, Cafe, Restaurant and a private club room open to the public.

 Putting the Visitor Front and Center through Experience with Art

One of the most transformational aspects of Gallery One involved the goals for visitors’ ‘take away’: we aimed for experience rather than specific content delivery. The team wanted visitors to

  1. Have fun with art,
  2. Use the interactive games and interpretation as the spark for understanding and social experiences with art, and
  3. Find transformative moments of discovery that make art relevant for them today.

Gallery One and ArtLens were designed to honor visitors’ behavior. Pre-launch audience evaluation showed that CMA visitors preferred browsing according to their own preferences. Hence, there is no preferred path through Gallery One; visitors can move from one art installation to another, each with its own story. The Collection Wall asks visitors to browse rather than search: to find artworks they like visually, and to discover connections to related works by collection, material, or time period. The ArtLens app follows browsers as they meander through the permanent collection galleries, indicating where they are in the building and the artworks near them.

Today visitor excitement remains as exhilarating as opening day. Art and business professionals, regular museum goers, and the newest and youngest visitors continue to display awe and wonder as they enter Gallery One and discover exciting, surprising and playful new ways to enhance their understanding and enjoyment of art.

Young visitors play 'Matching and Sorting' discovering art and reinforcing sight words. The "Sorting and Matching" interactive employs two 42-inch, 32-point multi-touch 1080p displays integrated into a custom table, with a narrow beam line array speaker to support audio cues for the youngest users. 300w, 451w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> Young visitors play ‘Sorting and Matching’ – discovering art while reinforcing sight words. The ‘Sorting and Matching’ interactive employs two 42-inch, 32-point multi-touch 1080p displays integrated into a custom table, with a narrow beam line array speaker to support audio cues for the youngest users.

Museum Community Success and Beyond

Since opening its opening 14 months ago, Gallery One has received substantial press coverage, heralded as a revolutionary space in the world of museums by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and The Plain Dealer, among others. CMA welcomed visitors and museum colleagues (including September 2013’s MW Deep Dive symposium) from around the world. Directors, technologists, and educators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and many other top museums arranged formal visits to review and assess the installation. The reach of this visionary installation extends beyond the museum world as well, inviting new visitors to discover its exceptional collections within the technological context of the interactives, and inspiring professionals in many different disciplines to reconsider their projects and installations.

Return on Investment

The main goal of Gallery One was to build audiences, including families, youth, school groups, and occasional visitors, by providing a fun and engaging environment at all levels of art knowledge. We wanted to propel visitors into the primary galleries with greater enthusiasm, understanding, and excitement about the collection.

Gallery One opened as part of a suite of several new visitor amenities, including a new fine dining restaurant and café, museum store, and the museum’s 39,000 square foot, glass-enclosed atrium, all of which have contributed to the museum’s rising attendance. It is difficult to provide specific numbers for Gallery One’s influence on attendance, as there are no sensors located at the entrances of Gallery One. In the first year after the atrium opening, the museum’s attendance increased by 39%, reaching one of the highest levels in over a decade. Attendance by visitor groups with children has increased by over 25% since the opening. CMA also completed the first half of its fiscal year with an 80 percent increase in donations.

View of the Atrium from Gallery One 300w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> View of the Atrium from Gallery One

From observers to participants: The Voice of the Community

From the beginning, the intention of Gallery One was to transform our visitors into participants rather than passive observers.

The Collection Wall’s complexity, scale, and visually compelling screens revolutionized how we perceive user engagement with our collections in the museum space. Visitors browse works individually or communally, create their own tour and download it to an iPad and, when they share their tours and favorites with the Wall, they contribute back to the museum and the experience. The constantly changing, organic nature of the screens, enhances the creativity of the museum staff to introduce new themes and filters for browsing works on view.  So each visit delivers a new view and new discovery for the visitor.

The Christie iKit multi-touch system allows multiple users to interact with the wall, simultaneously opening as many as twenty separate interfaces across the Collection Wall to explore the collection. 300w, 450w" sizes="(max-width: 800px) 100vw, 800px" /> The Christie iKit multi-touch system allows multiple users to interact with the wall, simultaneously opening as many as twenty separate interfaces across the Collection Wall to explore the collection.

Studio Play is a dedicated space within Gallery One that allows families to explore the museum’s collections and create art together through hands-on activities and interactive technology stations. Kids can use easels to create a colorful drawing, and parents can place it in a frame for all to see their work on the walls of CMA. Families can create a dramatic production with shadow puppets based on works from CMA’s collection. They can also discover an interactive, multi-touch screen that allows them to make simple lines or squiggles. The interactive then reveals works of art in our collection that incorporate the same lines and squiggles. Studio Play uses technology together with a deep understanding of the learning needs of young visitors to provide cross-generational opportunities for families to begin the exploration of permanent collection artworks in a comfortable, safe, and deeply engaging space. They also provide to the museum community models for using technology to connect with our youngest visitors.

Kids discover an interactive, multi-touch screen that allows them to make simple lines or squiggles. The interactive then reveals works of art in our collection that incorporate the same lines and squiggles. It's a fun way for families to become visually familiar with the art they will see in CMA's permanent collection galleries. 300w, 500w, 1920w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> Kids discover an interactive, multi-touch screen that allows them to make simple lines or squiggles. The interactive then reveals works of art in our collection that incorporate the same lines and squiggles. It’s a fun way for families to become visually familiar with the art they will see in CMA’s permanent collection galleries.

The conversational tone of the ArtLens videos connects visitors with the personal insights of curators, educators, conservators, and community members. The community voices are especially important. They call up continuing traditions that grow from the artworks on view and connect visitors with people in their community – like the Imam of the Cleveland Mosque for whom the Islamic prayer niche in our collection is part of a living tradition, or the Cleveland ballet dancer who brings his creative perspective to Degas’ Frieze of Dancers.

Outreach beyond the Museum Walls

Gallery One has enlivened the space of public access to collections in a remarkable way, not only to visitors onsite at the museum, but also in conferences where museum professionals are newly inspired by Cleveland’s example to be creative and thoughtful about engaging visitors in new ways.
– Carrie Rebora Barratt, Associate Director for Collections and Administration The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Most recently, Gallery One has captured the attention of other institutions whose focus is on engaging and educating the public. One example is the new Cuyahoga County Public Library’s interactive “Tech Wall,” which incorporates Gallery One interactives and the ArtLens app. Visitors browse our digital collection in the library and are inspired to visit the museum.

The CCPL’s  “Tech Wall” objectives were to provide a safe and neutral hands-on experience with technology; to inspire curiosity regarding technologies and digital services that may move someone to embrace that new technology and to expose and promote the digital offerings available in the library’s collection (or in the case of Art Lens, CMA’s collection).

Museum outreach with a Gallery One installation at a local library. 300w, 449w" sizes="(max-width: 717px) 100vw, 717px" /> Museum outreach with a Gallery One installation at a local library.

Reaction has been positive and has increased library interaction and introduced the museum to new potential audiences and visitors. Library staff are adding “Tech Wall Tours” at the end of basic computer classes and including a demonstration/promotion of the CMA portion and plans are underway to create a kids/teens education program on Art Lens and Gallery One this summer. The collaboration between CCPL and CMA has drawn the attention and visits from other library teams and leaders and inspired them to explore similar partnerships in their own communities.

An annual CMA highlight is the summer Solstice event which celebrates the year’s shortest night with a host of acclaimed international music groups attracting more than 5,000 party goers. In 2013, the museum’s stunning collection served as a dynamic theatrical backdrop for the Solstice, as the Gallery One Collection Wall was projected on the south façade of the museum’s Beaux Arts-style 1916 building at 8 times its normal size. The wall display included artworks on view in the just-opened North Wing galleries—including Art of the Americas, Art of North American Indians, Textiles, Japanese, and Chinese—and teased party-goers with previews from the Korean, Indian, and Southeast Asian collections. After seven years of the museum’s galleries’ renovation, the entire collection was re-introduced to the community on the wall of the original 1916 building.

Collection Wall projected on the Museum's south facade during the Museum premier summer event - Solstice. 300w, 1024w, 450w" sizes="(max-width: 1280px) 100vw, 1280px" /> Collection Wall projected on the Museum’s south facade during the Museum premier summer event – Solstice.

The Cleveland Museum of Art will continue to use interactives throughout northeast Ohio in places such as hospitals, libraries and possibly our airport to connect the community to our collection and drive them to our free museum.

Colleagues react and provide new perspectives

Year one saw formal visits from teams from over 150 national and international institutions. CMA Gallery One team members shared experiences and provided insights into process, and in turn received invaluable feedback from interested colleagues.

Museum directors, exhibition designers, and interpretation specialists were not alone in visiting Gallery One and attending the conference presentations. Technology specialists also tapped Gallery One as a game changer, for one consistent reason: it approaches technology and information management as a business would. A digital strategy plan guides the collection and digital asset management systems balanced with modularity, sustainability, and data efficiency. Finally, what has struck museum colleagues about this project was the Museum’s institutional willingness to embrace digital technology, bring it into proximity to the art, and experiment with new and participatory visitor experiences. One museum educator commented, “The younger generation of museum visitors will expect a digital experience to compliment the art experience and the Cleveland Museum of Art has taken the first step to fully engage this reality, while also providing experiences easily accessible to visitors who aren’t “digital natives.”

Visitor Research and Analytics

Led by Elizabeth Bolander, Director of Communications and Research, and Meghan Stockdale, Audience Research Associate, and funded in part by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, research has focused on usage, usability, and understanding the impact of these new technologies on the visitor experience. One hundred visitor groups of various demographics, composition, and visit frequencies participated in the main phase of the research, which studied the impact of Gallery One and ArtLens on the visitor experience through in-depth interviews, visitor-created videos, and phone interviews three months after the visit. This central research phase was complemented by observations, in-depth usability testing, and Skype conversations with off-site users. In total, nearly 1,000 people participated in the project and over 300 hours of audio and video was captured and analyzed. Combined with Google Analytics tracking, this resulted in a rich and varied data set, offering significant insights into the visitor experience and impact of technological tools. Though the data is still being analyzed, there are some exciting preliminary findings that can be shared.


  • 9,508 users tracked between April 1, 2013 and January 29, 2014 (includes 1 month of iPhone app activity)
  • Videos were started 143,921 times
    • Top accessed videos: Introductory tours, Who is Chuck Close?, How it works? (Table Fountain), Food Symbolism (Still Life with Biscuits)
  • 3,764 tours were started
  • Most common tours: Introductory tours, BLUE, HERO, and SYMB
  • Over 25,000 objects were saved to ArtLens from the wall
    • Of all 44,564 objects favorited by users, the most popular are Water Lilies, Paul III, Armor for Man and Horse, Gray and Gold, and Lion on the Watch
  • Close to 29,000 objects have been scanned
    • Scans most commonly completed: St. Catherine, The Triumph of the Church, Paul III, Prayer Niche, and Metro


  • 2,510 interactions tracked between April 9, 2013 and January 29, 2014
  • Average time spent playing the Sculpture posing game: 3:13 seconds
  • 5,906 vases have been created
  • Most common objects triggered by line drawing in 1930’s lens: Corsican Washerwomen, Warrior Heads Plaque, Cocktails and Cigarettes Punch Bowl, and The New Yorker (Jazz) Bowl
  • Games that visitors are most likely to fully complete: Pose game, face-making, line drawing, and painting on canvas
  • Games that visitors are most likely to walk away from before fully completing: Painting on canvas, Voting, Clay game, and Face-making game

From early analysis of the data, the research team has found that visitors are generally responding well to the ArtLens app. Many say that the interpretive videos draw their attention to details they would have missed, and one liked that the app felt like “a teacher in your pocket.” Additionally, nearly 60% of visitors interact with the lenses in Gallery One. 38% interact with one, 23% each with two or three, 12% with four, and 4% with five. They are most likely to approach the 1930’s lens, but use all lenses rather equally.

Visitor interacts with art via technology at the Sculpture Lens. 300w, 500w, 1920w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> Visitor interacts with art via technology at the Sculpture Lens.

In addition, it took this past year to learn the depth and scope of analytics we need to capture to have a better understanding of the visitors’ experience. A new budget line has been added to the project to add code to interactives in order to capture this data. This will allow the evaluation team to expand from basic queries regarding the Collection Wall to deeper analysis. For example: how many artworks are they touching on the Wall before they favorite? how often they change facets in coverflows? how many artworks do they favorite in a single session? As we expand into new platforms, we will also increase the breadth of analysis, including, for example, information user behavior variances between Android vs iPhone users.

II. Sustaining Gallery One as Game Changer: Technology Systems and Strategies

The development and implementation of a comprehensive digital media strategy—including all foundational technology for art information, interpretive content/secondary assets, research resources, and relationship management—was instrumental to the success of Gallery One and ArtLens.

Gallery One: Test-Bed for museum wide digital strategy

In 1996 the museum’s strategic plan established a commitment to becoming a national leader in the use of new and emerging technologies. It all started with the purchase of collections management database and digital scanners and a commitment to digitizing the collection. Twenty years later, CMA is particularly proud of its on-budget, successful launch of Gallery One. The Information Management and Technology Services department assembled and managed the development team of Cleveland Museum of Art’s collections and tech staff, as well as nationally-based and local vendor partners that pursued our vision for technology. This commitment resulted in the implementation of ground-breaking uses of hardware technology, including the reconsideration and the subsequent development and implementation of the world’s largest touch screen Micro Tile wall. The museum’s Information Management Technology Services (IMTS)’s organizational and technical efforts culminated in international acclaim, increased exposure and revenue for the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The IMTS team led the creation of the data structure that enables visitors to discover and learn about the CMA’s collection in distinctly personal ways. Art featured on the Collection Wall and ArtLens—and on the museum website in Collection Online, too—is dynamic. The descriptions and images for artwork flow automatically from the asset management systems used by staff, the “cascading CMS” approach allows the Collection Wall and ArtLens to reflect current gallery installations (e.g., the art shown “moves” as it is moved within the museum, and “drops” when the object goes on tour/loan). In addition, they are paired with video and interpretive content stored in a system geared for fast, efficient delivery via iPad and smartphone. Cloud technology provides equally efficient access to ArtLens video across the globe.

Flow of information through backend databases that support the Collection Wall and ArtLens. 300w, 387w" sizes="(max-width: 577px) 100vw, 577px" /> Flow of information through backend databases that support the Collection Wall and ArtLens.

Gallery One and ArtLens were the first beneficiaries of the museum’s digital strategy, and their technology and information management implementation has been recognized by IT professionals as innovative, intelligent, and in-line with tech industry best practices. With visitors and request for information from all around the world, CMA staff had to find time in their schedule to document and answer questions about Gallery One as though it were a case study.

The Collection Wall reminds me of David Weinberger’s Everything Is Miscellaneous (2008): it makes every artwork equally available, democratizing the collection…, it enables me to create a tour that threads me like a needle through all the various parts of the building. It disappears the architecture, the molecules, and replaces them with a new organizing principle: visual interest.

– Peter Samis, Associate Curator of Interpretation, SFMOMA

Alignment and Turbo-Charging of the Museum’s Technology Systems

The development of Gallery One and the ArtLens app forced the alignment of two primary, integrated system backbones at the museum. The collection-information backbone encompasses all cataloging and interpretation for the artworks in our collections, studio photography of the artworks, and all the bibliographic and archival resources available to support ongoing scholarly research. The visitor experience backbone captures ‘user’ moments (i.e., transactions) that document a person’s relationship with the museum—from parking-garage entrances and special exhibition entrances, to attendance at MIX cocktail nights, and children’s art-class registrations, to donor-circle renewals and volunteer shift check-ins. In the first year of operation, both systems integration and data integrity have been hardened to provide a reliable, efficient source platform to support multi-channel access.

The Collection Wall’s cross-collection display themes and cover flows of related artworks are dynamically generated based on metadata. Some of this metadata flows directly from the museum’s collection cataloging and management system (CCMS), while some is curated and added to use-specific content management systems. During year one, the metadata structure and content were expanded to include short names for the long-winded curatorial collection titles, sortable artwork dates, standardized statements for materials and techniques; and creator and donor statements were scrubbed for consistency.

To support the creative use and application of the museum’s abundant information about its permanent collection and art in general, IMTS had to build a solid backbone for collection information. The effort is ongoing an all fronts, but we took a significant step regarding the digital asset management component of that backbone this past year.

Digital Asset Management Farm

We’ve been using Piction DAMs for five years now, and they’ve multiplied during that time: we have three. Our main Piction DAM houses all of our art photography for staff use, editorial photography, and soon, selected conservation and archival images. That DAM is internal, and links to our collections management system. It also feeds 1) the DAM that supports our Collection Online and serves up additional content for the website like epublications and lesson plans, and 2) the CMS that provides artwork descriptions and images to the Collection Wall in Gallery One and ArtLens, along with rich-media and thematic tours, and over 850 videos.

Tying the museum’s Digital Asset Management systems together has been challenging because the original data architecture of the collection records were based on the artworks instead of images. If an artwork had detail views—and some of them now have hundreds—it was almost impossible to manipulate the detail view images independently, to correct load errors, generate new derivatives, control use privileges, use in lightboxes, or export.

Optimizing Metadata for Collection Discovery

CMA’s Apelles catalog is the primary source for all artwork metadata viewable on the Collections Wall and ArtLens. The Apelles database is comprised of approximately 100 tables, which feed 40 custom Views and two dozen Stored Procedures that allow it to feed dynamic, up-to-date collection catalog data to the Collection Wall. (Apelles is a 15-year-old, home-grown legacy Collections Management System that will be replaced with a new Collections Catalog and Management System in 2014.)

When Gallery One opened in 2012, the Collection Wall fields for Collection, Date and Medium were only mapped to catalog values for works currently on view, and the facets were set in a ‘one time’ update. During 2013 additional galleries were opened, gallery rotations kicked off, loans returned, and new accessions were added. This means new sets of catalog records became available for viewing on the Collection Wall weekly, simply by being moved into a public space via movement transactions in Apelles. As we saw new data and records flow in dynamically, we realized:

  • Utilities needed to run more frequently. New records flowed into the Gallery One database more quickly than we anticipated.
  • Facet mapping tables needed to include the entire catalog, not just works on view, so that when artworks rotated on view they would immediately display in coverflows. This made the mapping analysis and assignment a bit more challenging, because the rule remained that each term needed to be represented by 12 works on view at any given time.
  • The creation date in the Gallery One database, which had originally been a one-time upload from a spreadsheet needed to be added to the weekly refresh from Apelles.
  • A reporting and resolution process for catalog, image or hardware issues visible on the Collection Wall needed to be set up for the Gallery One frontline staff.

Incomplete mapping tables

The first issue to be resolved was the incomplete mapping tables. Combining and cross-checking search results across Apelles, PICTION DAM and the Gallery One database, we were able to quickly identify the medium description strings coming out of Apelles, which had no matching term on the Material mapping table. We also discovered certain foreign characters in the medium description were causing the mapping update to fail. This analysis provided a lot of opportunities to scrub data in the Apelles catalog, and we worked with Collections Management to cleanup and standardize data. Once the new Material mapping table was in place and the utility ran, we saw a great improvement in the variety of artworks in the coverflows.

Creating Dates for the cover flows

Next up was sorting out the Creation date. We needed to find a way to include a sortable date in the Apelles to Piction DAM data flow without reprogramming the complex stored procedures. Analysis of CDWA lite script showed this data existed in Table 2, and further analysis of the data in Piction DAM revealed that the ingest already parsed out the field as CDWA.EarliestDate. Piction simply added this field to the DMZ and Gallery One data migrations. The date mapping table now needed to be updated to change the formatting for ‘BC’ dates from the original { “-“ + date } to { date + “BC” }  – which is how the CDWA lite schema specifies the qualifier – and, as with the medium mapping, expanded to include all dates in the collection, not just those on view. This also greatly improved the breadth of artworks in the coverflows and improved the timeline view of the full collections on the Wall.

Workflow for dynamic update of Collection Wall facet: in this example, XML formatted 'Creation Date' is parsed, mapped to a generalized value having >12 and <25 additional representative artworks, and the mapped value is written into the Materials facet in the G1 database. 300w, 461w, 1310w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> Workflow for dynamic update of Collection Wall facet: in this example, XML formatted ‘Creation Date’ is parsed, mapped to a generalized value having >12 and <25 representative artworks, and finally written into Materials facet the G1 database for use in the Collections Wall coverflow as well as related artworks functionality of the Artlens IPhone app.

Once we resolved the data issues, Piction added the mapping utilities to the data migrations, and also delivered them our local Gallery One Administration tools so they can be run ad-hoc as needed.

Data Scrubbing

Using the metadata for artwork made errors and inconsistencies easy to spot; likewise, actually using images of artwork in the ArtLens app and on the Collection Wall—which had been away in our Piction DAMs over the past five years—turned up more than a handful of digital images that were mistakenly associated with the wrong artwork before ingest, corrupted files, and photography for multi-item or multi-part artworks that was inconsistent in staging/lighting. Collections Management, the Photo Studio, and IMTS worked together to review and correct images as each new wing opened and additional artwork went on view.

A designated Gallery One help line (email account) was set up for Gallery One technical staff to report issues related to catalog data or image appearance. Photos or videos of anomalies are attached to emails, which are then analyzed by the Applications Management staff to determine the root cause. Some issues are quick cataloging fixes, other requires restaging and photography before ingest, and others indicate issues with the mapping tables. All these issues can be quickly resolved in-house, as we have control over all the underlying databases. Hardware integration or application software issues moved into issue resolution queue with the vendors.

All this backbone work has turbocharged downstream use of artwork images, and we’re eager to see the results in upcoming exhibitions, publications, and programming.

Facet data issue: definitely not "ink on silk". 224w" sizes="(max-width: 287px) 100vw, 287px" /> Gallery One Tech staff report a possible Facet data issue: definitely not “ink on silk”.

ArtsLens Focus: Content is Everything

Visitors’ use of ArtLens in the galleries set in motion a concerted effort to expand ‘label’ information for artwork on view. Curators and Interpretation staff wrote narratives for artworks that had none, filling in long-known but previously unimportant gaps, and quickly realized that context was everything: what a visitor could glean reading a wall label in the galleries was wildly different from what he would understand looking at the same artwork’s page on the website. With ArtLens, visitors could be standing in front of a sculpture, or sitting in a Starbuck’s browsing the collection on an iPhone. New fields were added to multiple systems in the collection-information backbone, to support mobile-device specific narratives (called App Text), and to support new featured introduced with smartphone development: markers used to identify curatorial ‘top 10 picks’ throughout the collection, and artist names without dates or nationality for efficient searching.

Single version of the data: Collection Wall, Art Lens, Website and iPad

The dedicated Piction CMS built to support the Collection Wall and the ArtLens app creates 23 specially-sized derivatives (11 pairs for iPad use, and one for wall display) from the master images stored in the main Piction DAM used for internal research. In the first year of operation, IMTS had to add a workflow for reviewing the horizontally-cropped derivatives used to advertise media tours; autocropping sometimes resulted in a Ken Burns-style zoom straight to Rubenesque cleavage or Apollo’s groin.

During the past year, IMTS made some fundamental changes to the Piction DAM as well, ‘flattening’ the artwork-photography collection so that each image is represented by a separate record, to support image-level cataloging and manipulation and better access to alternate views. With this project, the entire artwork data flow—from CCMS through three Piction DAMs, and ultimately to the Collection Wall, ArtLens, and Collection Online on the museum website—was re-coded for efficiency and thoroughly tested for different scenarios of metadata and image change.

Digital Sharing: Twitter and Facebook

One of the most complicated back-end re-alignments necessitated by ArtLens was a complete rebuild of the museum’s public website and Collection Online.

The museum wanted visitors to be able to share their favorites via social media through ArtLens, but original website implementation offered its content pages in popups, and hid nonsensical, utilitarian URLs from online visitors. There was no way to get from one to the other easily, and no way for Google’s crawlers to ‘see’ our artwork! IMTS migrated the museum website to Drupal to support linking straight to a specific page, specifically so we could construct ‘real’ URLs for artwork pages based on accession number, and construct them dynamically in ArtLens.

Favoriting and sharing activities on ArtLens drive significant traffic directly to the web pages for artwork on view, completely out of context of the ‘search the collection’ page. IMTS worked with a Collections-focused team to redesign and enhance the artwork pages for better usability. The team is now reviewing process (and permissions) to include ArtLens assets for artworks which have gone off-view. The Drupal CMS for Collection Online online is managed in-house which provides the team with the necessary flexibility and control to implement this expansion to the data flow.

With the iPads available for visitor check-out, additional log-in prompts for social networks must occur because they are not visitor-owned and do not store previous registration.  Initial analytics after the first launch of ArtLens showed minimal use for social sharing, at only 4% of users. This led us to implement the broader share capabilities of email and texting for the iPhone and Android versions. With the iPhone version, more visitors are sharing because with iOS 7, registration and log-ins for Facebook and Twitter are automatic and appear within the standard iOS share sheet. The visitor’s email client also appears and when artworks are shared, an email is sent from their own account that contains CMA crafted default copy, subject line text and layouts. With this method, a small increase in sharing has been noted. Time and more analysis of usage statistics will reveal more details on which method is utilized the most for this feature. At this time, the rates are fairly even across social media and email sharing.

Central Table

Shortly after the launch of ArtLens, IMTS developed and inventory-control module for the 70 iPads available for rental in Gallery One, which includes a quick checkout/check-in with or without a member ID. This module is linked to museum’s Central Table so that iPad rentals are incorporated into a visitor’s relationship history.

Tracking rentals of iPad scanners is just one of the bits of information that is integrated into the overall picture of member and guest activity data. 1024w, 447w, 1067w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" /> Tracking rentals of iPad scanners is just one of the bits of information that is integrated into the overall picture of member and guest activity data.

Visitor-experience Backbone: Wi-Fi and Wayfinding

Wi-Fi performance is key to successful user experience. The physical architecture of the CMA building and prior Wi-Fi configurations that were not sufficiently robust and posed challenges to the IPad performance and retrofit solutions that would be aesthetically pleasing were challenges that needed to be addressed.

CMA selected a cloud-based solution from Navizon to provide location services in galleries for the ArtLens application. The Navizon system utilizes a series of wireless devices that link together using a wireless mesh which then relays the visitor location to a cloud base system, which can then be accessed via Navion’s API’s in the ArtLens application. Since the Navizon utilizes a small form factor device, these can be easily retrofitted into the galleries. In CMA case we are primarily use a light track fixture housing to contain and power the location device.

While this was the preferred solution, it was not as cost effective as working with Navizon to bring the solution in-house. Over the past year the CMA wireless network was migrated from an autonomous base wireless network to a centrally managed controller based wireless network. This allows CMA to gain greater visibility into the overall performance of our wireless network and make changes dynamically based on current usage.

In addition, all wireless access points in galleries were recently upgraded to provide additional speed and capacity using a Cisco 1262 access point. This allows CMA to provide speeds up to 100mb (802.11n) as well as using both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bandwidths for the most optimal performance on the visitor’s mobile device.

Details to updating and increasing the WiFi and Wayfinding throughout CMA’s galleries

The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) faced many challenges during the design and actual build out of the wireless network. The first challenge was that the initial design process took place back in 2003 at a time prior the wireless access becoming as widespread and expected as it is today. The second challenge was to install the devices in galleries in a way that was aesthetically appropriate to a gallery space. This meant that all wireless hardware had to be mounted above the ceilings in locations where access hatches were placed based on architectural design, which did not necessarily work for a proper wireless network design.

This location issue became more of an issue in 2012 when CMA was planning its ArtLens application, which relied on using a wireless network to obtain the visitors position so that the content appropriate to the area could be automatically delivered.

Below is a representation of CMA’s wireless access point installation in gallery areas.

Example of wireless access points in galleries. 300w, 500w" sizes="(max-width: 833px) 100vw, 833px" /> Example of wireless access points in galleries.

CMA’s initial thought process to achieve location-based services was to leverage the existing Cisco wireless network that was already installed. CMA engaged its wireless vendor to determine what would be involved to provide location-based services in our environment.

Our vendor analyzed our existing installed wireless network to determine the number of extra wireless access points that would need to be installed and where they would need to be located so that the ArtLens application could properly triangulate the visitor’s location within a particular gallery.

Recommendations were made by our wireless vendors (red circles) based on our current wireless network. Installing these new access points would involve cutting in access hatches in the ceilings and pulling CAT6 cabling to each new location. Since the gallery spaces were already built and installed, this would involve closing and deinstalling galleries which CMA management determined was not feasible.

Initial assessment of using Cisco WiFI for location tracking. 300w, 500w" sizes="(max-width: 513px) 100vw, 513px" /> Initial assessment of using Cisco WiFI for location tracking.

Since location services were still needed, CMA had to look into other options which could easily be retrofitted into the galleries.

After doing additional research, CMA selected a cloud based solution from Navizon to provide location services in galleries for the ArtLens application. The Navizon system utilizes a series of small form factor wireless devices that link together using a wireless mesh which then relays the visitor location to a cloud-based system which can then be accessed via Navion’s API’s in the ArtLens application.

Since the Navizon utilizes a small form factor device these can be easily retrofitted into the galleries. In the CMA’s case, we are primarily using a light track fixture housing to contain and power the location device.

Example of location node in light fixture (2). 300w, 326w" sizes="(max-width: 381px) 100vw, 381px" /> Example of location node in light fixture.

Note: A white cover is on the bottom of each fixture so that only the location device’s antenna is visible.

The gallery ceilings at CMA have light track fixtures running through out which makes the installation and placement of these location devices very flexible. CMA also was able to install the location devices in display cases that contained power.

Below is an example of how the location nodes are positioned throughout the CMA galleries to provide the best possible triangulation location information to the ArtLens application.

Example of Navizon location in gallery. 300w, 500w" sizes="(max-width: 922px) 100vw, 922px" /> Example of Navizon location in gallery.

As the usage of mobile Wi-Fi enabled increased, CMA found that the wireless coverage in the galleries was becoming inadequate with respect to speed and connectivity.

Over the past year the CMA wireless network was migrated from an autonomous base wireless network to a centrally managed controller based wireless network. This allows CMA to gain greater visibility into the overall performance of our wireless network and make changes dynamically based on current usage.

In addition, all wireless access points in galleries were recently upgraded to provide additional speed and capacity using a Cisco 1262 access point. This allows CMA to provide speeds up to 100mb (802.11n) as well as using both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bandwidths to provide the most optimal performance to the visitor’s mobile device.

Cisco Access Point and antennea (1). 300w, 500w" sizes="(max-width: 778px) 100vw, 778px" /> Cisco Access Point and antennea (1).

CMA has also implemented best practices recommendations from Cisco for using iOS-based devices:

Given the architectural challenges faced by CMA’s historic 1916 building with its thick metal lath and plaster walls, the wireless signals do not propagate as they would in a more modernly build building.This has become more of an issue with mobile devices which have more limited capabilities to pick up wireless (Wi-Fi) signals.

CMA has worked with our wireless vendors to do a survey study as to how our current wireless network infrastructure would be seen by the mobile devices most commonly used today. The study has revealed areas where coverage would be inadequate as shown below and actual field testing has confirmed these results.

CMA is currently in the process of adding additional wireless access points in galleries to help supplement the amount of Wi-Fi coverage available.

Example of wireless site survey in gallery. 300w, 500w" sizes="(max-width: 615px) 100vw, 615px" /> Example of wireless site survey in gallery.

Even with all of the various upgrades, additions, and configuration changes to our wireless network, we have still found the client devices (specifically iPads) to not perform as they should on an enterprise class wireless network (such as dropping their connections and not properly roaming). CMA is not alone in this challenge. In working with multiple wireless vendors we have learned that the Apple products do not always “play” as nicely as they should with enterprise class wireless networks. In addition, Apple keeps their wireless hardware and software very well guarded which makes the necessary testing process to debug very difficult. To date, we have tested several different wireless configuration settings to overcome these challenges in addition to reviewing how the ArtLens app itself is utilizing the wireless network for both location-based and data transfer functionalities (current settings shown below).

Artlens SSID configuration 300w, 385w, 1241w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> Artlens SSID configuration

NOTE: Even though Apple indicates they support Fast Roaming (802.11k) for iOS based devices, we have found out through testing and confirmation from our wireless consultants that it does not currently work. (

Cisco wireless channel configuration 2.4ghz vs 5ghz. 300w, 500w, 1082w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> Cisco wireless channel configuration 2.4ghz vs 5ghz.

We are currently working to address our location based system in our new North and West wing galleries, which have walls that do not go from floor to ceiling and also have multiple galleries in an open area (such as a corridor). In this situation, the Near You Now location indicator in ArtLens bounces around between galleries depending on the user’s location in one of these open wall galleries. We are currently working with Navizon to review the placement of the location nodes in these galleries to determine optimal placement to help address this issue.

The other challenge we are currently working to address with the location nodes is how best to avoid the wireless channel overlap between Navizon and Cisco networks. Since both systems utilize the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency, and specifically because of the Navizon’s nodes use of Channels 11, we have had to turn off the use of Channel 11 on the Cisco side to avoid performance issues between the two systems. This is causing high utilization on the Cisco network for devices using the remaining two non-overlapping 2.4 GHz channels. This is most noticeable in areas that have a denser group of devices on the 2.4 Ghz wireless network. CMA is currently in the process of moving our wireless devices to the 5 GHz wireless network to avoid this congestion. Navizon has also indicated the nodes they currently use will soon be able to work on the 5 GHz arena.

The technology serves to enhance the artwork, not distract from it

To make sure the technology enhances the artwork and does not distract from it, the CMA laid down a number of ground rules for the technology it employs. For example, while many of the effects appear cutting-edge, the technologies underpinning them are structured with best practices in mind and thus less likely to fail. Similarly, CMA’s team keeps spare parts on site so that any system can be repaired within 45 minutes. If software fails, then devices can be rebooted remotely via an IP-based power switch. Inactive screens still show content, so visitors are never confronted with a blank display.

Christie MicroTiles can be individually maintenanced and, if needed, replaced without disrupting the rest of the Collection Wall. 300w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> Christie MicroTiles can be individually maintenanced and, if needed, replaced without disrupting the rest of the Collection Wall.

Preventative Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Maintenance for the Gallery One Interactives has focused on Preventative Maintenance that includes regular cleaning of the electronics including screens, sensors, fans and filters.

Hardware framework for Gallery One. 300w, 400w, 2000w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> Hardware framework for Gallery One.

The technology design of Gallery One is focused on sustainability and reliability. During the many benchmarking visits the Design Team conducted to other museums, a repeated theme was equipment failures and downtime. It was critical to the Design Team that Gallery One experience minimal downtime through robust equipment and being able to completely replace any component within 60 minutes of a technician being on-site. To make this a reality, the Lens housings have been designed as interchangeable modules that separate the display, interactive and control components. Wherever possible, common components have been selected and spare parts for each are stored on-site.

The Collection Wall and Line+Shape Interactives use the latest in modular technology, and this is the key to the sustainable design. Each of the 162 video tiles in the Collection and Line+Shape walls is a modular 16”x12” cube which can be completely rebuilt from the front without removing the chassis from the wall. Complete replacement of a tile’s internal components can be completed in 30 minutes. The Touch Interactive technology is so new that the exhibit was initially opened with beta hardware from the manufacturer.  The Integrator, Zenith Systems, worked closely with CMA and Christie Digital through the development of the Touch Interface so that Gallery One was the first installation to take advantage of the new technology. The Touch Interface is designed in standard 12” and 16” sections which can easily be replaced in the event of a hardware failure. This approach maximizes the “up-time” of this signature exhibit through a sustainable design.

The Head-end systems, which include the server and extenders, are inspected to maintain optimal temperatures and the stability of media storage. Spare parts for all systems are stored on site to reduce down time and expedite repairs. Zenith Systems has developed software to run on the servers to test the function of the displays and touch Interactives and audio. When an issue is reported, the first step of diagnostics is to shut-down the exhibit software and test the complete software path with the diagnostic software. This is good software with reporting on touch responses that are visual to the technician. It is critical to the support of a complex interactive to have a method of troubleshooting that reliably identifies the difference between a hardware malfunction and software application issue.

Operational Teams and Matrix

At least one Gallery One technician is scheduled whenever Gallery One is open to visitors; depending on the day, a trained IMTS Intern may also be assisting. The technician rents iPads, monitors and supports all of the technological aspects of the space, and helps visitors use available technology.

Gallery One employs a staff of five regular technicians, three of whom split their duties between the gallery and other areas of the museum. Staffing Gallery One with a single, full-time person led to burn out, so a rotation seemed like a better alternative. On our team, one tech rotates his duties with Media Services, two techs rotate duties with the museum’s internal help desk, and one part-time technician was brought over from the Visitor Experience department, having lots of tech work in her background. This move allowed us to change the staffing from two people in Gallery One (a Visitor Experience person and a tech), to having just a tech on hand, and adding additional techs during busier times in the Gallery One space.

The techs discuss new technology with visitors—who are not all “tech savvy”—and must be “people persons” above all else. They frequently give tours to highlight the different interactives, as well as introduce the museum and its collections.  The tech staff continues reach out to visitors who might seem to be hesitant, as well as those who are eager to explore and learn more. We’ve discovered over the past year that there are all sorts of “users” and can adjust to each visitor’s needs regarding how to interact with the technology for the best museum experience. The introduction of the iPhone app in January 2014 provided new search functionality that was not available on the original iPad version, and met a lot of unmet visitor needs expressed during the first year!

Each day the Gallery One tech staff makes sure the Collection Wall and all of the interactive lenses power on correctly, and are available for use throughout the day. They may troubleshoot remotely using LogMeIn on a tech iPad or their personal smartphones.

All interactives can all be remotely rebooted via LogMeIn. 300w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> All interactives can all be remotely rebooted via LogMeIn.

The Collection Wall is the first installation of its kind, true, but what isn’t widely known is that any one of the 125 Christie Microtiles display squares that make up the display can be swapped out at a moment’s notice in the event of failure. The computer hardware behind the Collection Wall and the thematic kiosks is also modular for easy maintenance, and uses industry-standard operating systems, utilities, and programming tools for flexibility.

Maintaining all of the back-end technology in the Gallery One space requires substantial communication and teamwork. The staff uses a dedicated internal email distribution list to report technical issues to the other Gallery One staff and management. We have a shared network folder for technical documentation on how the interactives are run, how to troubleshoot problems, and how to recreate the correct settings in case of failure. The Gallery One technician team updates and adds to this crucial documentation on a regular basis.

When technical problems arise, basic troubleshooting can be done in-house by our tech staff. The technicians work together both in person and over email to advise each other on issues they may have worked on in the past. If a problem proves to be beyond our ability to address, it is referred to either our interactive vendor or AV support vendor for further investigation. Our technicians often aid vendors in troubleshooting and testing solutions.  We do not carry Apple Care contracts on the iPads; all technology in Gallery One is maintained by the locally-based Zenith Systems AV Solutions Group.

Regular Gallery One Tech staff meetings provide a forum to address issues and brainstorm solutions among staff members.

The Gallery One technician is almost always in the Collection Wall area, adjacent to the Ames Atrium. For part of the first year, techs were temporarily set up at the corner table in the library reading room area, across from the Collection Wall. The introduction of an actual desk—conveniently located between the Ames Atrium entrance to Gallery One and the Collection Wall—allows technicians to be seen from the Gallery One main area, and new signage helps draw visitors to the right place for assistance.

Additional IPad rental details:

  • iPad 4s pre-loaded with ArtLens are available to museum visitors for $5. A valid driver’s license is held for security.
  • The Gallery One technician has approximately 30 iPads ready for use each day, but up to 70 iPads are available with advance notice, to accommodate very large groups.
  • The museum’s iPads are fitted with a distinctive, easy-to-hold case from Gripcase (, which protects the device from breakage and stands out to Protection Services staff; so far, none of our rental iPads have been damaged.
  • The tech on duty charges and cleans the museum’s rental iPads between uses, and can provide cleaning wipes to visitors using their own devices on request.
  • CMA-sponsored groups in Gallery One usually use 10-20 iPads for the duration of the program. Generally, there are 2-4 individual rentals per day, with more on days with heavy traffic.
  • Detailed information about rental availability and requirements is available on the museum website
  • We use the Lock ‘n’ Charge iQ 32 Cart and Lock ‘n’ Charge iQ 16 Sync Boxes to charge and sync our rental iPads. These devices can be used to sync multiple devices at once.
    • We currently set up iPad images (technically “backups”) and settings profiles using Apple Configurator running on an Apple Macbook Pro.
    • We use one Apple ID for all of our iPads.
      • The museum’s rental iPads are configured to restrict the visitor’s use to the ArtLens app, even following a reboot; other applications, like the Safari browser and email, are not accessible. To date, our iPads have not been hacked.
      • We can locate museum iPads remotely, both onsite and off, using Find My iPad. We have not yet had any CMA devices stolen.
      • We do not currently have anything budgeted for upgrading our fleet of iPad 4s. Our iPhone version came out in January 2014, and iPad use has declined, as expected.

Maintaining a fleet of rental iPads is complex, but manageable with the right tools

The techs are all Apple device specialists, helping visitors to set up personal iPads and iPhones with RFID (radio frequency identification) tags that are used at the Collection Wall docks and with the CMA ArtLens application. Currently, over 75% of Gallery One visitors bring and use their own device (iPad/iPhone):

  • A coaster-size card with brief instructions for visitors using their own devices is always available at the tech desk, and the tech on duty will guide visitors through the process of ArtLens installation and setup.
  • Because of the variance in settings and apps on individual visitor iPads/iPhones, installing ArtLens may require additional time and attention; techs may suggest that the visitor take one of the museum’s rental iPads at no charge to continue their experience, while they continue to work on setting up the visitor’s personal device.
  • Detailed information about downloading the ArtLens app and preparing to visit is also available on the museum website.
  • By visitor demand, our museum store offers red, yellow, and blue versions of the museum’s Gripcase iPad case for purchase, for those who want to protect their personal iPads. We don’t sell black cases so we can keep CMA’s iPADs more visible throughout the museum.

Visitor devices require an RFID tag to synch with the Collection Wall. These small, round disks can be obtained for free from the Gallery One Technician on duty. The Technician will enter the tag ID on iPad and confirm that it works with the Wall.

Sometimes someone can be on an old operating system or does not have enough space for the App, in those cases we will loan them a CMA rental iPad for free.

Gallery One staff provide scanning bar code for rented Ipad. 300w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> Gallery One staff provide scanning bar code for rented Ipad.

Gallery Hosts and Live Programming

The Gallery One space is very lively and works best not only with tech support staff present but also with volunteers recruited as Gallery Hosts. They help engage visitors with the art and the technology especially in Studio Play, the drop-in family space. It was important to hire an assistant, who could both engage families with the hands-on and high-tech activities, while also enforcing rules so that the interactives and art-making supplies are maintained in good condition. We have also developed new live programs in the space: 1) Art Stories, a weekly drop-in story time program for young children and their families in Studio Play, and 2) Active Learning Experiences, a fee-based, staff-led problem-based learning program for K-12 school students that uses Gallery One as a laboratory for critical thinking and team building.

Content Development – Not just the old strategies rehashed

While the initial push to complete the first round of content creation at the beginning is often the focus, it is also important to remember and plan for changes, additions, and replacements, as well as continuing to create new content that will help the project continue to feel fresh. Sometimes the changes are unexpected: for example, several of the people who were interviewed for ArtLens had changes to their titles after the content had been completed, which prompted a new round of edits and reviews on content that had been in the completed pile.

The text and multimedia content in ArtLens represents hundreds of hours or work by Education and Interpretation staff, and includes a multitude of steps and processes, from object selection to conducting interviews, researching the collection, finding additional interviewees, securing rights, slideshow production, creating credit lines, scheduling, production tracking, and many rounds of review. Staffing will need to continue to ensure the freshness and accuracy of content.

The work doesn’t stop nor the investment when you create an installation like Gallery One.  The technology is such a paradigm changer, it opens up whole new previously uncharted gaps in interpretation, which in turn call for new, more effective strategies.

Collaborations continue, and deadlines are necessary

The Gallery One collaborative team of ITMS, Education, and Design staff continue to meet weekly to address issues like the ones highlighted above. There is no sense that the project is ‘done’ and ready to be archived. All understand this commitment to be iterative and evolving. Both professional and casual visitor feedback provide focus for the team’s agendas and strategies. However, it is apparent that deadlines are essential for keeping up to date. For example: the group completed ten interactives and an app in two years (with the unmovable deadline of 12/12/2012); after opening, the group determined that additional labeling was needed for various asset types, and it took a hard deadline of MW Deep Dive event to force necessary decision-making (9 months).

Interactive installation spaces are not suited to all artworks

Gallery One was originally installed with Richard Long’s Cornwall Circle (fig), an engaging work in terms of visual interest and storytelling. Media assets were prepared to highlight and provide transparency into the art installation process. However, the physical reality, in terms of footprint and visitor ingress, egress and circumnavigation proved to be overwhelming and unmanageable in a space with visitors encouraged to physically interact with the Sculpture lens, or others wanting to make a beeline to the 1930s lens. CMA’s acquisition of Wilson’s To Die Upon a Kiss (fig) provided Gallery One with an equally engaging work of art that would not disrupt the visitors experience in the Gallery or cause guards moments of anxiety.

Gallery One art initial art installation included Long's Cornwall Circle. 300w, 450w, 1600w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> Gallery One art initial art installation included Long’s ‘Cornwall Circle’.

Cornwall Circle was replaced with Wilson's 'To Die Upon a Kiss' 300w, 450w, 1600w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> ‘Cornwall Circle’ was replaced with Wilson’s ‘To Die Upon a Kiss’.

III. What are the next steps?  What is the vision for Gallery 2.0?

For those on the project management side of things, ‘launch’ only signifies the start of the next phase of the project, and one that is likely to be much more tumultuous in terms of wrestling with more unknowns. Will all the assumptions made ultimately prove to be correct? Will the information gleamed from focused user testing accurately reflect the behavior of the multitudes? Are all the operational and training efforts adequate now that thousands of visitors are coming in?

Partnership: Key to Launch and Post-Launch

From the beginning of the project it was important to establish strong and strategic partnerships with the external firms involved. In partnering with Local Projects, who worked with CMA from concept to production, there was mutual dedication and commitment to Gallery One being a success. In practice, this became consistent and open communication about expectations and process, and ensured that the larger goals for the project were not only being met, but then surpassed. It is one hundred percent true in this case, that all the individuals that worked on the Gallery One project were deeply invested and dedicated to its success, even years before any visitors would set foot in the galleries! This type of commitment is an absolute requirement for any project that has the level of complexity and cutting edge features contained within Gallery One. We thank all of our partners who have contributed to the CMA Gallery One success!

Project launch is often seen as the culminating moment where the (sometimes years) of planning, focused effort, determination and late-nights all coalesce into a moment that resoundingly sounds like “You’re Finished!” Launch is a time during all projects that requires even more time and effort because you need to prepare for both the launch itself as well as prepare for the needs that occur immediately afterwards. Launch puts your product into the world, delivers it to a (hopefully) ready and excited public and means that your discussions about the project now use concrete versus abstract terms. This also means that management should not underestimate the demands and needs that the Post-Launch phase ushers in.

CMA and vendor partners (here LP) brainstorming and troubleshooting, throughout year one. 400w, 960w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" /> CMA and vendor partners (here LP) brainstorming and troubleshooting, throughout year one.

Post-Launch: Press, documentation, and issue resolution


Materials needed for press had to be prepared in advance: marketing materials, photos and videos, publicity strategy and outreach required many hours of coordination and creation. This was all done simultaneously while troubleshooting interative functionality.


The Post-Launch phase needs were largely centered around Documentation. This can be understood within the context of operational support: visitor service training, concise and non-technical user manuals for each of the interactives and immediate and continued service and maintenance support with both Local Projects and Zenith (Hardware and AV Integrators).

Once Gallery One opened to the public on January 21, 2013, the museum saw an influx of visitors on a scale unprecedented for CMA. The many interactive software elements would need to withstand the touch and use by thousands of visitors and be robust enough to meet that challenge. Granted, that is looking at Gallery One more from a technical perspective and contingencies were put into place to ensure swift resolution to any unforeseen issues with functionality. The mandate was that screens were never to be ‘black’. From an operational and Post-Launch perspective, the behavior patterns and use of visitors was key to assessing any needed changes or updates to the software in the year ahead.

The Lens, Line and Shape and Sorting and Matching interactives were designed to be hardcoded or minimally integrated with external systems (external email capabilities and linkage to the Beacon display screens are implemented only on 3 of the 6 Lens games: Sculpture, Painting and Epic Stories) and the only operational issues that arose were related to implementing the timing of the automatic hardware and software application re-starts (truly!) in order to ensure that memory did not overload and freeze the application. The assumptions made about user behavior were largely correct and validated shortly after opening. Analytics (using Google’s API) were implemented as well to track specific use and interest. In-depth assessment of the data stemming from the analytics implemented (number of times each game was played, average duration of play, how far into each game did a user get) will be cross-referenced with the observations of on-site visitor traffic and location patterning. Ultimately and maybe obviously, the Lens game that is most popular happens to be in the center of Gallery One, specially lit to ensure accuracy for the facial and gestural recognition games. At this time, over 55,000 visitors have emailed themselves photos of their game play.

The Collection Wall and ArtLens mobile application are much more integrated on the backend and required greater diligence when looking at resulting data from repeated use.   Overall the backend for the Gallery One interactives is highly integrated, with the database, internal server, S3 server, website, RFID readers at the Collection Wall, ArtLens mobile application and wifi networks all working in concert with one another to ensure a seamless visitor experience.

Unforeseen Issue Resolution

Looking specifically at the Collection Wall, the way the original algorithm for ‘favoriting’ artworks was coded functioned as intended but after thousands of uses, showed that it was self-cycling.

Collection wall coverflows were envisioned to provide a casual yet comprehensive browsing experience for visitors. Visitors could explore twelve random examples of artwork with similar Collection, Date, Material, and Location facets; or jump from Contemporary to 1950 to metalwork to the Armor court in four steps using hyperlinks in the artwork label. The interface allowed the visitor to browse examples of each facet along the way, without ever having to a traditional database ‘search’ or ‘filter’. As the visitor browsed, they also had the ability to ‘favorite’ artworks, which would save the artwork to their connected IPad for future in-depth review and update the live data feed to the Gallery One Beacon.

The Collection Wall is conceived as a tool for visitors to browse CMA's encyclopedic collection, and serves as a fulcrum between Gallery One and the permanent collection galleries. It is designed to propel visitors into the galleries by giving them a taste of the objects in the collection and allowing them to create their own customized visit by downloading objects and tours to their iPad. 300w, 1240w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /> The Collection Wall is conceived as a tool for visitors to browse CMA’s encyclopedic collection, and serves as a fulcrum between Gallery One and the permanent collection galleries. It is designed to propel visitors into the galleries by giving them a taste of the objects in the collection and allowing them to create their own customized visit by downloading objects and tours to their iPad.

In Collection Wall development planning, CMA proposed using data already in the artwork records to support the coverflows and related record behaviors. Collection, Date, and Material were agreed to be the best facets for coverflow groupings. Information Data Analyst Andrea Bour and our Collection Management staff spent time standardizing values for sortable dates and medium descriptions, and mapping them to more generalized terms in order to group them. The records were loaded in to the artwork records in November 2012 to provide three simple thematic groupings to use in place of the ‘launchwall’ theme.

As months passed, CMA found increasingly limited variety in the overflows. That is, once a facet was selected by a visitor, e.g. Contemporary, the same twelve images returned every time instead of a random sample. The comprehensive insight to the collection was getting lost.

Working with the developer, we found that the algorithm which created the coverflow groups included boosted relevancy for artworks which were ‘favorites’, with the idea of providing a ‘hook’ for the coverflow with the best and most popular artworks. This small tweak made them increasingly likely to show in a coverflow, and therefore increasingly likely to be ‘favorited’ by the next visitor, further promoting those artworks’ relevancy and decreasing the likelihood that other random artworks would be shown. This behavior wasn’t apparent when originally launched/tested, but six months after launch, the favorite objects had been been presented and re-favorited so often that only the top favorites appeared. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

None of the CMA staff recall ever discussing, and did not approve, the use of favorites as part of the coverflow logic. The coverflow logic needed to be rewritten/implemented to restore diversity to the Collection Wall, so it could be used by our visitors as intended, to delve deeper into our collections. Both staff and the vendor committed resources to resolving this unforeseen, and unforeseeable issue.

How we kept things moving and focused during our first year

In the summer of 2010, the museum encountered the perfect storm of events that would lead to the restart of a Gallery One concept: the rapid advance and convergence of mobile technologies, the expressed need for CMA to advance a clear digital strategy, and the looming deadline of December 2012 that coincided with the public opening of the highly anticipated museum expansion.

CMA’s executive team determined that our likelihood of success in executing our emerging digital plans would rely on three essential elements:

  1. Recognize our core competencies and keep these in house (project management & infrastructure, big data strategy);
  2. Focus on the art and the experience (educate, entertain and engage);
  3. Borrow best practices and collaborate with the best practitioners (UX, design, app development).

In assessing the project and continually improving the current experience in year one, we constantly revisit these core concepts to ensure we are still in-line with the executive team’s directives.

2013 – Development of ArtLens for IPhone/Android

The new mobile version of the museum’s award-winning free iPad app, ArtLens, is available for download for iPhone since December 2013. In designing a phone version, the team included more tech savvy employees crossing even more departments within CMA.  They wanted the phone to have the same functionality as the iPad but to increase the functionality and make the user interface easier to understand. They created an app that features a new, mobile-friendly user interface, recommended related objects and a search function. Users can easily browse the museum’s world-class collections, take a tour or create their own tour. The smartphone app also integrates with the museum’s Collection Wall, a 40-foot micro-tile multi-touch wall that displays over 4000 objects currently on view in the museum’s galleries. The iPhone version includes an easily accessible top 10 visitor and curator favorites list. Favorites can also be shared on social media. The museum will launch a corresponding app for Android devices beginning of April 2014.

ArtLens: Changes for the Smartphone

The development of the smartphone version of ArtLens was a great opportunity to implement slight changes that we felt were necessary after observing visitor use in the galleries as well as looking at the analytics. The smartphone was a new platform that required a graphic re-design but still had to align with the feature set and approach to functionality within the iPad version. It was critical to consider this and to adjust where possible with consideration to our observations of visitor use within the museum. It was clear that a greater range of options for sharing was needed along with a more streamlined ability to locate yourself within the museum. The smartphone interface is much more constrained in terms of visual real-estate and using the maps for wayfinding needed to be subtly adjusted to accommodate this.In the iPad, ‘trays’ that contained artworks nearest to you would automatically open and provide the visitor with visual recommendations during their journey throughout the galleries.In the iPhone version, that functionality had to be re-sized, as the trays would obfuscate the visitors view of the floorplan. Additional UX changes also had to be made in order for the viewshed to accommodate both the map view and the suggested artworks nearest to the visitor. Through on-site testing, an optimal size was determined for the trays that was both legible and still big enough that the touch zones for the trays were accurate to selection.

It was highly beneficial to have developed and launched the iPad version of ArtLens prior to the smartphone versions. It allowed us to conduct more in-depth user observations, evaluate the analytics and prioritize the visual hierarchy of features as well as streamline the production of the application. The team had already been through the first development process and was now familiar with the inherent demands and nature of testing for mobile applications. Incredible diligence and understanding of the functionality was required to keep the expedited smartphone development timeframe on target. Communication strategies and methodologies for feedback between the CMA team and the development team at Local Projects were already established and allowed for a more productive development phase. Because of this, more time was spent on doing in-depth on-site testing and evaluation during Alpha and Beta releases. This allowed us to release to the App store ahead of schedule and provided additional time for testing of the ‘live’ version before our scheduled public launch. This also allowed for CMA to simultaneously test the upgrades to the wi-fi and Navizon systems in parallel.

Museum-Wide Digital Strategy

A cross-departmental team led by the CIO and composed of the Director of Communications and Research, Director of Education and Interpretation, Director of Library and Archives, Director of Exhibitions and Director of Collections Management will create a digital plan which will further CMA’s long-term vision of artistic excellence, scholarship and community engagement by embracing the use of innovative and holistic digital activities and promoting the development of digital skills across the institution in order to activate the collection, connect art and audiences in new ways, disseminate scholarship and provide ease of access to research resources. The development of digital activity and skills will enable CMA to work smarter and maximize revenue across the institution. The team has targeted May 2014 for completion of this plan.

Gallery One 2.0

In honor of CMA’s centennial in June 2016, Gallery One’s artworks will be completely replaced and new interactives will be designed to interpret the artworks. A cross-departmental team has just been tasked with creating a plan for the concept and deployment of Gallery One – 2.0, which will celebrate the future of the Museum on its 100th birthday.

Specifically, this will include a redesign of the Beacon to include more dynamic information collected throughout the entire museum and act as a live dashboard for all of CMA. The dashboard will show where visitors are and have been, what tours they’re taking and creating, what films they’re watching and content they’re accessing, what events and talks they’re attending. These real time and cumulative metrics will provide a nuanced glimpse of the Museum’s activities and visitor interests.

Future endeavors include:

  • CMA’s team has just begun talks about locative media and voice recognition.  We will continue to devise digital strategy and “big data”, to examine the way we track individuals across all touch points and personalize not just their visit, but our array of interactions with them (cf. “Omni-channel” approach).
  •  We are looking at the whole “internet of things” approach and the ubiquity of sensors + mobile devices as more important for the time being (thus locative tech). Mobile use is all about “use in context” and thus, this approach would support the specialized content for nearby artworks.
  •  Developing better analytics.
  •  Make ArtLens for special exhibitions to possibly replace the audio guide and create a back-end to work with other museums.

Current trends we are watching include:

  • Visitor Creativity: Creating a specialized separate application that focuses on the specific paradigm of visitor created tours. This would allow for a more detailed and comprehensive approach to encourage visitor creativity and comprehension of the collection.
  • Wayfinding: Re-evaluating how wayfinding is visualized from a UX perspective. Considering the inherent technological challenges for RTLS implementation, alternative designs will be considered and explored.

 “In the museum world, everyone’s watching Cleveland right now,” said Erin Coburn, a museum consultant who has worked at both the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Though other museums have experimented with interactive technology, the extent of Cleveland’s program is unprecedented, she said. “They’ve put a lot out there for other museums to learn from.”

– The New York Times, March 20, 2013


As in the concept of Gallery One collaboration, this paper includes contributions from  Cleveland Museum of Art staff: Elizabeth Bolander, Department Director of Communications and Research; Andrea Bour, Collections Information Data Analyst; Celeste Cosentino, Gallery One Technician; Jennifer Foley, Department Director of Interpretation; Caroline Goeser, Director of Education and Interpretation; Tom Hood, Manager, Network Engineering and Technical Services; Allison Kennedy, User Support Manager; Niki Krause, Applications Services Manage; Jeffrey Strean, Director of Architecture and Design; Meghan Stockdale, Audience Research Associate, and…

Thanks to our vendor partners for their input on this paper: Keeli Shaw (Senior Project Manager, Local Projects), Douglas Fortney (Principal, Zenith Systems), Gianni Giorgetti (Navizon); as well as our community partner Tracy R. Strobel, Deputy Director, Cuyahoga County Public Library.

Finally, special thanks to our museum colleagues, for visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art and sharing their wonderful quotes.


Cite as:
. "Gallery One, the First Year: Sustainability, Evaluation Process, and a New Smart Phone App." MW2014: Museums and the Web 2014. Published March 7, 2014. Consulted .

Leave a Reply