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Remaking Museums

Imagine a museum exhibition about how the Normandy coast inspired Impressionist painters – but one where the paintings come with photographs of those coastal landscapes and an immersive sound-scape. Or imagine an exploratory gallery where you can grab a giant lens and move it slowly over a Corot painting of a storm at sea in order to explore that turbulent surface in a way no self-respecting guard or docent would ever allow.  Both of these exist at the Dallas Museum of Art where five years of intensive visitor studies are reorganizing the way the museum and its curators engage with audiences.  This summer will see the publication of these studies and their implications as Ignite the Power of Art by DMA Director, Bonnie Pitman and Ellen Hirzy.  The volume details how the research has yielded a new understanding of museum visitors which has been used to double attendance, re-think exhibitions, and develop new programs such as the Center for Creative Connections, the online Arts Network, and insomniac museum tours.  Prepare to rethink nearly everything that comes to mind when you hear the phrase “art museum.”  More than that, prepare for a volume that could perturb your thinking about any and all cultural institutions from libraries and concert halls to aquariums.

 

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