The New Museum in New York

Knight Foundation Awards $1.87 Million for Digital Museum Projects

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced today that it will grant $1.87 million in funding to help twelve art museums use technology to immerse visitors in their collections.

These museums will use a range of tools—from chatbots to augmented-reality apps and leading-edge digital projection—to engage new audiences. The awardees include the Akron Art Museum; the Barnes Foundation; Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh; Detroit Institute of Arts; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the Mint Museum; the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, Georgia; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; the New Museum; the Pérez Art Museum Miami; and the Vizcaya Museums and Gardens in Miami.

“The arts inspire us, challenge us, and connect us to each other and where we live. People want those experiences to be personalized, interactive and shareable, just as they experience their daily lives,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of the Knight Foundation. “We support arts institutions that are willing to lead and seize the opportunities tech offers to engage visitors, patrons, and audiences.”

A complete list of the museums and their projects are as follows:

Akron Art Museum
Awarded $173,329 to explore new ways to give visitors insights into its collection by connecting them directly to curators and other museum professionals. The project will begin with an in-person experiment called “The Curator Is In,” which will inform the museum’s digital strategy.

The Barnes Foundation
Awarded $155,000 to create new ways to browse the foundation’s online collection by visual characteristics such as light, shape, and color. While most online databases of art require searching for terms such as artists’ names or artwork titles, this will allow everyday users to engage with the collection in a fashion similar to the original organizing principle of museum founder Albert C. Barnes.

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
Awarded $150,000 to develop and deploy a new mobile experience that eliminates the friction associated with traditional apps by infiltrating the most-used system-level app on mobile devices: native messaging. The Innovation Studio will create an SMS chatbot that will interact with users in fun, knowledgeable, and delightful ways, whether they are in or outside the museum’s walls.

Detroit Institute of Arts
Awarded $150,000 to expand a pilot that enables visitors to explore the collection on a deeper level through augmented reality and 3-D animations. Called Lumin and built on Google Tango, the project will enable visitors to more deeply explore the creation of Diego Rivera’s murals at the institute, the brushstrokes of Vincent Van Gogh, and how human eyes process color in Georges Seurat’s works.

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
Awarded $200,000 to help the museum engage its visitors and community through digital media as it opens its first permanent facility in the Miami Design District later this year. A focal point of the program will be the creation of video content that enriches the museum experience and expands the museum’s reach beyond its physical walls.

Minneapolis Institute of Art
Awarded $148,800 to improve the museum’s digital storytelling platform, which provides an in-depth look at pieces in the collection by adding new features and making it easier for organizations across the country to use.

The Mint Museum
Awarded $150,000 to bring more people to the museum by creating a welcoming, interactive staircase and public art installation that uses light and sound––a must-see, must-hear, must-climb destination.

Museum of Arts and Sciences
Awarded $100,000 to create more immersive film experiences by launching the FullDome Festival, in partnership with the Macon Film Festival. The event will highlight works created specifically for the museum’s leading-edge digital planetarium.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Awarded $150,000 to engage more people in contemporary art by developing a digital scavenger hunt that encourages museum visitors to locate artworks in its galleries by written texts that describe them. The project builds on the museum’s Coyote project, which makes images more accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired through text descriptions.

New Museum
Awarded $250,000 to accelerate the development of technology that engages museum visitors by creating a museum technology track at NEW Inc., the incubator and professional development program created by the New Museum.

Pérez Art Museum Miami
Awarded $150,000 to help visitors more deeply engage with the collection and the museum’s architecture through an augmented-reality app that will feature multimedia content, including explainer videos, an interactive map, and sharable content.

Vizcaya Museums and Gardens
Awarded $100,000 to enhance the visitor experience by using 3-D-modeling and -printing to allow visitors to explore spaces of this National Historic Landmark that are not accessible to the public. The spaces include Vizcaya’s Barge, a partly submerged breakwater decorated with mythical sculptures, and the swimming pool grotto, which has a ceiling depicting an elaborate undersea scene.