Cleveland Museum of Art Installs Country’s Largest Multi-touch Screen

  • Image courtesy of CMA

Not to be outdone by the bevy of multi-touch gameboards and tabletop screens on display at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, the Cleveland Museum of Art launched a mammoth multi-touch monitor of its own last week. Ominously christened “The Collection Wall,” CMA’s interactive display comprises 150 “micro-tiles” remotely operated by 20 computers.

The Wall, which can accommodate up to 22 simultaneous users and is probably teeming with other people’s microbial ejecta, is not the first of its kind. It’s just the biggest. And coolest.

The product of two years of data collection and planning, the Wall is a glossy, 40-foot colossus swarming with 3,500 images of pieces from the museum’s permanent collection. Museum-goers can browse, select and enlarge thumbnails of works from the museum’s galleries; from there, they can learn about the selected piece and its artist or pan to related works by genre, time period, or movement.

The Collection Wall is the centerpiece of CMA’s new Gallery One, a “revolutionary space” that also features thematic satellite screens, or “lenses,” with which visitors can interactively explore works by medium — at the Sculpture lens, visitors are encouraged to use the supplied webcam to match their features to resemblant works in the museum’s collection.

Gallery One’s innovations are attended by a on-site app called ArtLens, which enables visitors to use their own iPads or those supplied by the museum to navigate the galleries. Scanning a chosen piece with the iPad’s aperture instantly reveals background information and related trivia and multimedia materials. ArtLens features include personalized itineraries of the museum’s collections, a “Favorites” option that facilitates sharing preferred pieces through social media, and “Near You Now” — basically Grindr, but, you know, with art.

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