by Hugh McDonald, executive producer October 12th, 2021
Ideum was honored to work with The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.—often called “the nation’s museum”—to create an exciting new way to introduce guests to the museum’s vast collections and help them plan and organize their visits.
Founded in 1937, the National Gallery has one of the world’s most diverse collections of paintings, sculptures, photographs, books, prints, and decorative arts, including works from the Middle Ages, the Italian Renaissance, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and a range of modern movements and styles. The museum’s catalog is massive in scope, and guests may sometimes feel overwhelmed with options, especially on a first visit. This project was designed to help infrequent or first-time guests learn about the spectrum of artists and genres on display and deepen their ability to make their visits meaningful and memorable.
Ideum worked with National Gallery staff and designers from internationally-known design firm Pentagram to create an intuitive and compelling interface in keeping with the museum’s recently reimagined branding and visual style. Running on a 49" Ideum Drafting II touch table, the exhibit presents visitors with a range of curated tours of artworks on display. Visitors can choose from tours of works by artists such as Rembrandt and Vermeer, specific subjects such as animals or flowers, or broader categories such as Impressionism. Each tour offers a range of artworks, information about artists, themes, movements, and techniques, and locations within the Gallery’s marble halls. A map of the museum and associated QR codes makes finding selected works of interest easy.
The exhibit debuted in the midst of the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the exhibit touch table was delivered, it was equipped with Ideum’s award-winning Touchless Module created to make navigation easy while eliminating the need for touching shared surfaces. As we learned more about the mechanics of viral transmission and increasing numbers of museum visitors were vaccinated, the module was removed as planned.
As we’ve progressed through the pandemic, the Drafting Table’s Touchless Module has been discontinued, but Ideum continues to offer our Touchless Pedestal for interaction with video walls and projection-based exhibits. And with the National Gallery now fully reopened to the public, we’re reviewing plans for an update of the experience to add increased functionality and information for museum visitors