Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
The Department of Islamic Art's fifteen galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia are some of the most visually striking in the entire Museum. Located on the second floor of the North Wing, visitors are greeted by elaborate patterns carved and painted on many objects—from ceramic bowls to tapestries and arches. Tiles tessellate in repeating patterns across the walls, and in one room the ceiling is covered with intricately carved geometric patterns. With a collection of over twelve thousand objects, these galleries illustrate the fascinating diversity of the culture of Islam.
Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2014
The Museum's Main Building at Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street has practically been under construction since it was first completed in 1880. Growing and changing to accommodate the ever-expanding collection and visitor base, the building has been shaped by each director's initiatives, all with an eye toward accommodating future needs and demands. Wings have been added, galleries have been reconfigured, spaces have been renovated and changed time and time again, and some are wholly unrecognizable from their earliest days. In order to accommodate the collection, the Museum strives to create the perfect atmosphere for its artworks; curators strive to convey time and place, history and subtext—maintaining a great sensitivity to the past, but remaining firmly steeped in the present.
Posted: Monday, August 18, 2014
Digital Underground continues its Met + Parsons Museum Accessibility Workshop series by taking a look at a project that tackled the thorny problem of accessible wayfinding in a large, overwhelming museum such as the Met. Not only did the participants in this group develop a paper prototype outlining a user interface for wayfinding, they also did the practical work of walking through the Museum's first floor and identifying multiple points of accessibility metadata (stairs, lighting, acoustics, flooring, etc.) for every room. This effort led directly to a follow-up project during the following semester by Media Lab Intern Yuliya Parchina-Kottas, which you can read more about in her Digital Underground post. We caught up with this workshop team to discuss the inspiration for their project, and how the workshop helped them to better understand the museum experience.
Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014
During the Fall 2013 semester, the Met and Parsons The New School for Design forged a new partnership, Met + Parsons Museum Accessibility Collaboration Workshop, to explore possibilities for using technology to improve the museum experience for visitors with disabilities. Our first featured project from that workshop, Eye on Art, focused on developing an eye-tracking system that would enhance the experiences of nonverbal and mobility-challenged art lovers. We recently sat down with the student participants to discuss their inspiration for this project, and the challenges they encountered in the process.
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
As part of my work as a Media Lab intern, I created an educational booklet about fundamental 3D-printing processes, 3D Printing Booklet for Beginners, which will help the Met's staff and visitors to better understand how to create and print 3D models with 123D Catch and other open-source software. The booklet was designed to build on the Media Lab's practice of helping audiences use 3D models of objects in the Met's collection for their own creative purposes. There are three main chapters in my booklet—Scanning, Modeling, and Printing—as well as some examples of how to create a new art project inspired by reproduction art, an idea I got from John Berger's Ways of Seeing.
Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014
What expectations do people with disabilities have when they visit museums? How are museums adapting new technologies to better serve our visitors, whatever their abilities and interests? How can the Met take a leadership role in introducing standards for inclusivity to the next generation of museum technologists? These are some of the questions we asked ourselves when embarking on the Met + Parsons Museum Accessibility Collaboration Workshop.
Posted: Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Yuliya Parshina-Kottas is a recent graduate of the ITP program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. After a decade of working as an animator and designer for children's television, advertising, and multimedia museum exhibits, she is venturing bravely into the world of user experience, interaction design, and creative coding. I am thrilled to have Yuliya introduce her recent Media Lab project, Accessible Wayfinding, here on Digital Underground.
Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014
In my last Digital Underground post, I discussed artist Cory Arcangel's Super Mario Clouds (2002), a digital artwork that stripped the original Super Mario Bros. video game of everything but the background and clouds. If your interest in digital-art copyism was piqued by that, then you should also know that there are many routes one can take to achieve this end result. Cory has already shared his process, and in this post I will outline my experience translating his image-based instructions. If all goes well, you will end up with your very own bespoke copy of Super Mario Clouds.
Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014
The Museum's first Bulletin, published in November 1905, mentions a restaurant "located in the basement of the North side of the Main building. Meals are served à la carte, from 10 a.m.–6 p.m., and table d'hote from 12 a.m.–6.pm." (The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 1, Nov. 1905). The Museum Restaurant was located near the western end of what was then known as the Hall of Casts, accessible via a staircase leading to the basement (approximately where the current Public Cafeteria is now). By 1912 an entire renovation was planned for the restaurant, as "[it] has never been an attractive place to visitors, partly because of its location . . . but equally because of its dark, cheerless aspect, [and was] so far removed from the toilet rooms . . . [that it was] a serious drawback." (The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Vol. 7, No. 10, Oct. 1912). Accordingly, these planned renovations highlighted "a rest-room for women, with a toilet-room attached, [including] wash-basins with hot and cold water, while a smoking room will be provided for men, also with lavatories" (ibid.).
Posted: Friday, June 6, 2014
One of the many lessons I've learned in my first 10 months on the job at the Met is how much attention is paid to everything we do here. Having worked at Columbia Journalism School for two decades, I am familiar with the amount of interest journalists take in the activities of a major institution (especially when most alumni are journalists themselves).
Because of the Met's reputation, scale, and history, our activities get a lot of scrutiny. I wrote recently about the social media traction that we got thanks to the annual #MetGala, and the Webby Award for our Instagram account.
But nothing quite prepared me for the amount of press, blogger, and social media attention we've gotten for our recently updated image use policy.