Have you ever stood in front of a work of art and thought, “What is that? I don’t get it.” Then you wander about looking for the label only to discover that it says “Untitled”. Looking at art I sometimes feel as though I’m standing outside an invitation only party and I can’t find my invite. To be fair, my chance to personally connect with the art can often be quite obvious, if only (sigh) if only, I would remember to drop my “don’t make me think” attitude in the trash can.
In my dreams, all the vast amounts of valuable information about each work of art would be easily accessible and (gasp) open to tagging and comments from you. Many museums and artists are already exploring how to make this fantasy a reality. One of my favorite players in this arena is the New Media Consortium (NMC). The folks at NMC really know how to spark innovative learning, curiosity and creativity. An amazing application they have developed is Pachyderm, a multimedia authoring tool that allows curators and educators to publish rich media learning objects as easily as 1, 2, 3.
The Pachyderm project originated in the mind of Peter Samis, Associate Curator, Interpretation, SFMoMA. Peter and his team developed the Pachyderm web tools and methods to inspire curators to share their wealth of knowledge about understanding art. And rather than just do this for SFMoMA, Peter, NMC and IMLS have helped make Pachyderm freely available to any museum or educator who has an interest in sharing a story.
What is so wonderful about Pachyderm? It was designed by people who understand the needs, strengths and challenges of curators, artists, art educators and museum visitors. I think of Pachyderm as a digital muse who inspires curators and educators to ask thought provoking questions and tell stories while simultaneously stimulating the visitor to look deeper, explore the context and discover personal meaning and connections to art. In fact, I see Pachyderm as a tool to help turn visitors into part of the creative process, giving them the keys to unlock a new interpretation that has the potential to transform the work as well as themselves.
Want to see what I mean? Let me show you the door to four art adventures, I challenge you to explore one and let me know what you discover about art, the world and yourself.
- Making Sense of Modern Art – by SFMoMA
- hush, hush, the power of a secret – by arthouse
- Geometry of Hope – by Blanton Museum of Art
- Integrating the Arts: Mummies, Manuscripts & Madonnas – by The Walters and Sandbox Studios
Still hungry for more? Check out the Pachyderm Showcase. Who knew elephants could be so delicious?