National Gallery of Victoria's new digital guide gives visitors personalised interaction

  • TECH
  • Monday, 04 Jan 2016

Masterpieces on parade: The NGV has 70,000 works of art, including pieces by Rembrandt, Modigliani, Monet and Picasso.

The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia has created a new digital guide in collaboration with Telstra Telecommunications Company that allows visitors to experience the museum wherever they may be.

The NGV is Australia's oldest and largest public collection and houses 70,000 works of art, including pieces by Rembrandt, Modigliani, Monet and Picasso. The digital collection currently contains more than 24,000 works and users can browse the museum by collection areas, art movement or search for a particular artist.

For the first time at the NGV, anyone can save digital reproductions of their favorite artists. They can also receive recommendations based on their preferences. The guide features personal insights provided by curators and conservators through texts and audio tours, as well. As the Head of Audience Engagement Donna McColm explains: "NGV guide augments in-Gallery and digital experience by creating a platform that aims to directly connect people to the stories, emotions and ideas within artworks, via interpretive and creative perspectives and a personalised interaction."

The NGV's new guide offers extensive research material, which includes access to conservation stories and high resolution images. By using a specially-developed algorithm, the NGV and Telstra have developed a recommendation engine so that users can quickly find works of art based their personal tastes and intentions, from those seeking in-depth information to those who want a lighter experience of the museum.

Many museums around the world now offer digital collections but the NGV's differs from most in that its guide is not an app but a web-based resource that integrates with a content management system. When developing the guide, the NGV experimented with a range of museum applications available but wanted something easier to use and less time consuming.

The NGV guide is accessible on mobile devices and does not need to be downloaded. "Because the NGV guide is not an app, users can access the resource directly from the website ... We realised that we did not want to develop an app that would take users a long time to download, take up valuable space on their device and require extensive updates," McColm said.

Like most international museums, the NGV cannot physically display its entire collection at any given time. However, digital collections allow visitors to explore works of art that are not on display. The NGV is now working to expand its digital collection to make its entire 70,000 works of art available to online to users anywhere in the world.

To check out the new digital guide at the NGV, go to — AFP Relaxnews
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