Collection Connection: Then and Now

Just last week the Museum released the DMA app, allowing visitors to engage with the collection, but the Museum has a long history of using technology to enhance the learning experience.

Students working with "Artifacts," the Museum's interactive computer video program during "The Shogun Age" in 1984.

Students working with Artifacts, the Museum’s interactive computer video program during The Shogun Age in 1984.

The first efforts began in 1984 when the DMA launched Artifacts (not to be confused with the 21st century version of Artifacts – the DMA Member magazine), a suite of interactive video computer programs that provided visitors a one-on-one learning experience for the Museum’s permanent collection and special exhibitions. “Combining visual images, through the use of video, with the stored information and access capability of a computer, a simple user-friendly system has been developed. Artifacts enable to the user to become involved with the program content rather than the mechanical operation of the machine, by the use of a light pen placed directly on a video monitor screen.”(DMA Bulletin, Summer 1984, page 27) Through Artifacts visitors were able to access information not available on text labels in the galleries providing context and greater appreciation of the artworks.

Today, a team of staff and intern programmers from Pariveda Solutions created the interactive app over the summer. Mary Mills, Administrator of Visual Resources, created Artifacts after two years of research and development, and had to learn both video production and computer programming, since Artifacts was the first system of its kind to be developed for an art museum.

The tools have vastly evolved over time but the idea of using technology to give visitors a more engaging experience at the DMA has stayed the same.

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.


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