Museums are sharing treasures with wider audiences through private and DOOH networks, and engaging thousands of people through interactive and social media. Recent projects not only explore the intersection of art and technology, but utilize that space to create new art. In New York City, three digital signage projects offer inspiration to professionals involved in all aspects of signage: Art Everywhere US went live in Times Square and across America in August; The Jewish Museum is in the midst of upgrading its signage system to full HD; and, when the “new” Cooper Hewitt opens this December, visitors will be able to draw on selected landmarked walls with a digital pen.
Art Everywhere US orchestrated the expertise of an incredible number of organizations to bring American works of art to the public, using signage and mobile interactive technologies. Five major museums collaborated with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and its members to display classic and contemporary paintings on billboards and other displays on city streets, rural highways, bus shelters, subway platforms, airports, movie theaters and health clubs. The result was a nationwide celebration of the country’s artistic heritage. Among the project’s many digital signage network partners were CBS Outdoor, CEMUSA, ClearChannel Outdoor, elevateDIGITAL, JCDecaux, Lamar, Simon Malls, Titan, Around AV Transit Media and Van Wagner. Production for the entire project interfaced with 35 media outlets.
Discussing the project, Stephen Freitas, Chief Marketing Officer, Outdoor Advertising Association of America, said, “The size and scope of Art Everywhere US was enormous. It was the largest OOH public service campaign ever conceived, featuring 50,000 unique compositions created from 58 original pieces of art.”
Rendering original art for signage went beyond the typical portrait or landscape orientation requirements. The project generated 683 unique layouts, including 422 digital screen configurations, 174 static displays, 23 bus wraps and three staircases. Times Square deployment alone required 52 designs for 15 locations. Using the original art files, 36 unique video loops were created. Shorter 30- and 60-second spots were displayed on DOOH networks at cinema theaters, and the four-minute videos on place-based networks, such as health clubs, where longer segments are appropriate. Extra Credit Projects in Grand Rapids MI and AVID Productions in Washington DC produced the content.
“Aside from sharing great art with people, the program also validates the remarkable nimbleness and reach of Digital OOH today,” observed Freitas. In May, the public was invited to go online to “curate” the exhibition from 100 pieces selected by the museums. Online voting totaled more than 170,000.
On the large-format displays, an interactive art icon enabled viewers to learn more about selected works and access museum audio guides for a more immersive experience, using the Blippar app on their mobile devices. A Selfie Contest during the campaign also contributed to public engagement through arteverywhereus.org, which is now an interactive art gallery.
Digital signage is also enriching the visitor experience at two iconic New York City museums. At The Jewish Museum, VideoSonic Systems is updating and upgrading the original signage solution it installed 12 years ago, to take advantage of new technologies and to serve changing user needs. “Replacing the original Cat5 balun distribution with a 10/100 Ethernet switch, using existing cabling, has simplified management and facilitated planned future expansion, while use of full HD Samsung LED-backlit LCD screens with onboard media player and MagicInfo software, is a big step forward from the original, first generation 720p LCDs,” said Glenn Polly, President, VideoSonic.
In addition to greatly improved image quality, brightness and field of view, the networked displays made it possible to deploy a more versatile solution. Multiple administrators with various responsibilities and authorization levels update the content and schedule playback through the HP server running Samsung MagicInfo Premium S. “The internal media player in each of the five 32-inch LCD screens looks for a file update and pulls the new content for display at that specific location and time,” Polly explained. The Jewish Museum also has plans to install an outdoor kiosk on 5th Avenue, with back-to-back 75-inch LCD screens.
At some museums, signage and interactive technologies are becoming part of the art. The Cooper Hewitt Museum has a long history of innovative combinations of art, technology and design. Following a multiphase, multiyear renovation, the National Design Museum will reopen this December with new ubiquitous technology intended to greatly enrich visitors’ experience and understanding of design.
Among the museum’s new features, the Immersion Room, designed by Local Projects, will enable visitors to select digital images of wallpapers or create their own, and see them as life-sized projections on the room’s walls. The interactive Process Lab will invite visitors to create designs through a combination of digital and hands-on action, focusing their attention on design as a “way of thinking, planning and problem-solving.”
But perhaps the most essential and iconic aspect of the museum’s technological evolution will be “The Pen.” This interactive device will enable every visitor to record their experience while they are creating it, to share it online and continue the creative journey when they return.
Although not every signage deployment involves Art with a capital “A,” system designers and stakeholders can always benefit from engaging the cultural, aesthetic and creative energies of their intended audiences.
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