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Interactive Exhibition in Museum

Curatorial experience at UC Berkeley's MAGNES Collection of Jewish Art and Life

The 2020 exhibition In Real Times. Arthur Szyk: Art & Human Rights (1926 - 1951) exhibits

miniature artworks by Polish-American artist Arthur Szyk.  It contains an iPad workstation that allows visitors to interact with artworks within and beyond the ones on display.

My Role

As a curatorial assistant, I worked with curators and exhibition designers to build the iPad workstation

Timeframe

August 2019 - May 2020

The iPad workstation was consisted of two iPads. The left one allowed viewers to create digital collages from the original art on display, and the right one displayed digitized works from the same artist. Both iPad screens were projected onto the gallery wall, which allowed visitors to see the actions of other visitors and to observe the artworks more clearly.

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I tested between various apps including Procreate and Photoshop Mix, and determined that the latter suited the best due to its straightforward interface. The visitors of Magnes are mainly college students and seniors who are not accustomed to using electronic devices. Therefore, an easy-to-use interface better serves museum visitors.

I also organized and backed up the images, managed the exhibition's Flickr account, wrote an instruction for the workstations and created sample collages for visitors.

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After the exhibition opened to the public, I continued to observe user interaction in the real-life setting of the gallery. The workstations were proven to be successful, and many visitors showed interest in using the iPads.

I observed unexpected interactions as people played with their silhouettes in the projections. The visitors' bodily actions, which were made possible by the digital displays, may helped them build a more intimate relationship with the artworks.

Although the exhibition was severely impacted by covid after its opening, its experimental incorporation of digital components proved new potentials in how the digital serves the people in a museum setting. The technology used are not complicated, it is rather the collective effort of the curatorial team, together with the brilliant ideas behind the installations that brings an abstract thought into a concrete form. It happened because we tried.