Following a $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the launch of its conservation program, the Dallas Museum of Art has announced another grant of $300,000 for the creation of a new technology initiative that will help develop the museum’s educational and visitor outreach programs. The initiative, called the Laboratory for Museum Innovation, is supported by lead gifts from AT&T, Texas Instruments Foundation, and Forrest and Cynthia Miller.
Much like a technology start-up, the Laboratory will work to help the museum connect with the surrounding community through experimental programming, pioneering short-term pilot projects with students and teachers, making collection data accessible to the public, and studying how visitors experience the museum and its exhibitions. The Lab will be split into four specific areas: Access to Collections; Visitor Engagement and Participatory Culture; Advancing Digital Scholarship; and Transformative Infrastructure. The gift will allow DMA to “develop cutting-edge technologies that further enhance the vital role that museums play in their communities,” said director Maxwell L. Anderson in a press release.
Anderson has a history of technology initiatives; in his previous position as director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, he oversaw the museum’s technological overhaul, launching projects like the Art Museum Image Consortium and the ArtBabble museum video channel that benefited both IMA’s audience and the art museum community at large.
The DMA’s deputy director Robert Stein, another innovator of technology’s presence in museums with programs like the research initiative Steve.Museum and the museum mobile platform TAP, will lead the Laboratory, which will begin activity this summer. “With social media and mobile computing becoming increasingly important factors in the lives of museum visitors, the methods and means to effectively engage with those visitors are changing at an incredible pace,” Stein stated in the press release. “In an ever-connected age, museums occupy an important place as a significant local resource as well as an important cultural resource to a global community.”