My notes from yesterday's meeting with DIA

Erin Yu erin.yu at
Wed Apr 29 21:38:34 UTC 2009

Hi everyone,

Here are some additional things from my notes. It is astonishing how  
long it an exhibition to materialize, typically 3-5 years they said!


McCord is in the process of reinstalling their entire collection.
Trying to do it in a visitor-centered manner (just like our User  
Organizing the art based on visitor research and learning theory:  
understanding what they came for, how they experience the exhibit
Giving people the technology: Using it in a personal way. Allowing for  
different ways to think about the collection.
Process of developing an exhibition: typically 3-5 years. Interested  
in ways to cut it down.
Conversation about ideas
Research and development
Design/Installation: 12-18 months

On 28-Apr-09, at 11:24 AM, Colin Clark wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> Here are my notes from our meeting yesterday with David, Matt, and  
> Jennifer from the Detroit Institute of Arts. They're by no means  
> comprehensive, but hopefully they'll be useful.
> Colin
> Detroit Institute of Arts and Fluid Engage
> • completely reworking and reinstalling all of their exhibits at the  
> gallery
> • a shift from presenting works in strictly art historical terms,  
> and towards more inclusive or thematic approaches to organizing works
> • for example, moving from chronological to "day in the life"  
> presentations of works
> • they have great content: how can we give people technology and  
> tools so they can take what they've done in the gallery and extend  
> it? teachers, visitors, etc.
> • they've had some success in using technology in the gallery, but  
> it's all one-offs, and very expensive to create
> 	- electronic books
> 	- Rivera Court: handhelds using video and other materials, but the  
> first generation of equipment was really difficult to use
> 		- rich collection of documentation of these Diego Rivera murals:  
> photos, etc.
> 		- created AcoustaGuide: company in NYC who traditionally build  
> audio tours; this was their first attempt at building handheld-based  
> tour
> 		- details are shown on the PDA; you can click through to find  
> things you're interested in
> 		- can get commentary from local experts, poets, etc.
> 		- still fairly tour-based
> 		- people wear headphones and use a Nokia 800
> 		- really wanted to allow visitors to add their own commentary
> 	- see Fluid Engage as a way to build the next generation, and  
> something they can build upon
> • TMS for collections database
> • our own interpretive database using FileMaker Pro
> • Through African Eyes, their next big exhibit in the pipeline
> • generally have six or seven exhibits in various stages of  
> development
> 	- the length of development time is a pain point for them
> 	- 12-16 months to do the design/development part, where you're  
> organizing the way the show is going to lay out in the gallery, the  
> text, educational material, etc.
> • open slot in Fall 2011: that's a tight period for conceiving of a  
> new exhibit
> • DIA was an early user of TMS
> 	- there are portions they don't use: conservation and exhibitions  
> portions
> 	- large collection: 60,000 objects with lots of fields and  
> descriptions
> 	- reporting is very limited: requires Crystal Reports
> 	- good from a registrarial point of view, but not very useful in  
> terms of developing interpretive materials because of the  
> limitations of the fields
> 	- exhibits module: limited ability to group objects and attach  
> text, but not useful enough, especially for large collections
> • wanted a tool to do exhibit planning
> • TMS keeps object information
> • FileMaker lets them import data from TMS and then group them  
> together:
> 	- which objects go together in which gallery?
> 	- different sections of objects in a gallery: more groupings
> 	- even information about proximity within space
> 	- information about look and feel
> 	- interpretive material can be attached at any level: the gallery,  
> the section or the object
> • they have a digital asset management system where graphic  
> designers build the actual labels
> 	- their design team is off-site; contractors
> 	- this company gives them online access to content, letting them  
> make changes to designs, etc.
> • really interested in visitor participation:
> 	- low-tech so far
> 	- stations where people write postcards, etc.
> 	- experimented a little with their website (Monet to Dali), where  
> they asked visitors to write their own labels for works of art
> 	- planning to do so on several new exhibits
> • web site:
> 	- changes and innovation are very expensive, because they have to  
> go to outside contractors to change the website
> 	- site has some basic ability to extract data from TMS, but again,  
> every upgrade costs
> 	- contractor is M6
> 	- they're frustrated, feel limited by the way they manage their  
> website
> 		- one of the attractions of Fluid Engage is having more control  
> and flexibility about how they deal with their website
> 	- their contractor isn't a partner who helps them think through the  
> best ways to implement experiences on the Web
> 	- website run by the marketing and PR department
> 	- they've been doing some strategic planning about how to expand  
> and improve their website
> ---
> Colin Clark
> Technical Lead, Fluid Project
> Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, University of Toronto
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