Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rome Calling

by: Paul D'Ambrosio, Vice President and Chief Curator I spend a lot of time planning exhibitions; deciding which artworks tell a particular story, negotiating to bring those works together here at the museum, writing or editing labels, and working with the exhibitions staff to create a layout that brings the visitor into the world that the art portrays. My absolute favorite part of this job, however, is sharing that world with visitors after the exhibition is mounted. Over the course of the season I might give dozens of tours and lectures to hundreds of people. When we have exhibitions that are particularly popular, we simply schedule more and I make the time.

The problem is, even if I worked 24 hours a day, it would be impossible to reach more than a few hundred people this way. That is why we are currently exploring other forms of media to reach a far larger number of museum-goers. One of our new social media experiments this year will be cell phone tours of our new exhibition, America’s Rome. In the next few days I will be taping a tour of the exhibition (the paintings haven’t even arrived yet!) so that any visitor to the Fenimore Art Museum can dial in on their cell and listen to me while they tour the exhibition at their own pace. This way, I could reach thousands with the exhibition content that I’ve spent the last two years developing.

Importantly, the cell phone tour will include a feature allowing visitors to leave comments. This is very exciting and unprecedented here. Over the course of the year we plan to find ways to share these remarks with everyone, thus creating a shared product that I alone could not create.
If you get the chance this year, please give the cell phone tour a try and let us know what you are thinking about the topic of the meaning of Rome to America. Together we can make something worth more than the sum of its parts.
Worthington Whittredge. Aqueducts of the Campagna, 1859, Oil on canvas, 33 by 53 ¾ inches, Cincinnati Art Museum, Gift of Caroline Hooper, 1900.1

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