Another in a 2014 guest column series which builds on the one in 2009 where 50+ had written about how science/tech has evolved their hobby/interest.
This time it is Jeanne Achille, Founder and CEO of The Devon Group, a PR firm to countless technology companies. Here she writes about her love of museums.
Given my profession, I have the opportunity to travel – a lot. While the chance to visit new cities is still appealing, repeat performances over and over again to previous stays can be onerous. One can only muster a certain level of excitement about the Marriott’s renovation since the last visit, which is why I decided years ago to blend my love of museums with business travel.
Frequently tacking on an extra day to lose myself in the Smithsonian, Victoria & Albert, the British Museum, Reina Sofía or Villa Borghese, my business travels have evolved to support a lifetime of learning. Having been an art major in college, I have a special place in my heart for the splendor of the masters – yet am equally intrigued by history (most recently at the Museum of the Resistance in Lyon.) So how does someone from the land of Springsteen and Bon Jovi navigate exhibitions in countries where the native tongue isn’t English?
Years back, museums were havens for ladies who lunched called docents. They guided you (albeit in their native tongue) through the highlights of the museum, pointing out the most noteworthy exhibits and sharing the insider info about the artist and period of time in which the event took place. These coveted slots still exist today and it’s not unusual to see docents taking groups on tours throughout museums. But as a long-time consumer of all things tech (my children were raised on my lap while I banged away on the keyboard of an XT), I prefer to tour museums at my own pace by taking advantage of the museum’s mobile apps – downloaded to my devices or by using a museum loaner - and touchscreens.
When high school-level French thwarted my ability to fully grasp the nuances of the Louvre, I was glad there was an app (in English) for a self-guided tour. And it’s not just while you’re visiting the museum - a personal favorite – the Newseum in Washington, D.C. – has a free iPad and iPhone app titled “Front Pages” that enables you to get the front pages of hundreds of newspapers on your mobile device. Even the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in western Massachusetts (an absolute gem), has planned to replace older audio guides with a new mobile, touch-screen multimedia guide when it reopens this summer after extensive renovations.
Many museums are also tagging exhibits with QR codes so you can easily read more about them on the web, and so not surprisingly the Russia's Pavilion At The Venice Architecture Biennale 2012 was made up entirely of such codes so visitors could spend hours blending the analog and digital experience.
Museum sojourns aren’t just for mobile adventurers. Having grown up in the New York metro area, my youth was spent in New York City on weekends and the American Museum of Natural History was a favorite destination. If you haven’t yet experienced it take in the latest IMAX and 3D feature. You’ll see how high-speed and time-lapse photography, electron microscopy, and nanotechnology enable us to view aspects of our world for the first time.
In Vinnie’s latest book, Max Hollein, Director of the Städel Museum in
Frankfurt, Germany, describes his museum’s digital journey. They are allowing visitors from all around the world to take a “digital stroll” through our collection with links to multimedia content for individual artists and works of art. Additionally, they are also rethinking physical exhibits as consumers get exposed to all kinds of design innovations. They recently opened a new underground gallery that was designed by the architects Schneider+Schumacher with lighting from 200 skylights in the lawn above.
So the next time the idea of a museum visit makes you yawn, grab your mobile device and open your mind. You’ll be amazed how these repositories of beauty, innovation and knowledge will leave you planning your next visit during your first. And get ready to visit – and support – museums everywhere even if you cannot physically get there.