Friday, September 19, 2014

Art gallery tours led by new guiding voice

Gallery tours are an amazing opportunity for art patrons to learn about and deepen their appreciation of art.  From the context of the piece to the life of the artist, the information given in a gallery tour is often vital to understanding the art. 

However, even with experts personally walking guests through the museum, particular challenges can limit and inhibit the museum experience.  Whether it’s problems with audio volume, articulation or foot traffic, gallery tours are subject to a variety of factors within the museum on that particular day.

David Behringer, owner of the New York City gallery The Two Percent, decided to use modern technology to combat the limitations of gallery tours.

With the use of the antenna-based audio systems company Antenna International, Behringer has transformed his gallery tours into an audio-led experience. Using the technology, Behringer transmits his voice and other multimedia content directly to the tour participants.

These tours, which Behringer calls “Audio Hops,” allow tour participants to wander freely, taking their time with the art that strikes them. People are allowed to spread out, clearing the gallery of the clumps of people gathered, attempting to hear a single, and often straining, voice.

Whether the gallery is empty or full, Behringer can pre-record the audio tour and adjust volume accordingly. He can not only record himself providing the appropriate context and background for the art; he can also record the artists themselves giving patrons even more details. 

In addition to allowing an easier flow of information between the tour guide and the participants, the technology also enables the use of multimedia to help create an interactive, rich tour experience. When appropriate, Behringer uses music or videos to further contextualize work for the guests.  This helps to highlight the intricacies of a method or influence that would otherwise be lost in a traditional tour.

Behringer still gives Audio Hops primarily through beta-testing; however, he has started to allow up to six patrons to register online to participate in tours. And as many possibilities as this type of tour present, he is still figuring out what works best, attempting to optimize the gallery experience for all guests. 

All images from psfk.

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