Art Museum goes high tech with QR codes


qr code readerThrough the magic of technology, visitors to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art now can use their smartphones to learn more about artwork there.

It’s as easy as aiming your smartphone at a QR Code, or Quick Response code, which is one of those black and white squares seen everywhere these days — particularly in advertising. You know them — the boxes with black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. QR codes are now mounted next to about 30 pieces of art in the museum.

Once a QR code reader application has been downloaded free onto a smartphone the phone can scan a QR code and within seconds more information pertaining to that particular code will be available on the phone.

In the case of the museum, a click on a QR code will yield much more than just the artist’s name. Biographical information on the artist will pop up, usually along with a photo of the artist and some other pieces of his or her work. The additional information about the artist helps provide context to the artwork, said curator Sarah Aubrey.

The project came about as the result of a meeting of two minds.

“I’m the one who wanted to add them (QR codes),” said Linda Dykhuizen, director of marketing. The technology “is slowly being integrated into a lot of museums.”

She jokes Jason Smith must have been reading her mind.

Smith, who is one of the owners of Club Soda but also has started a technology business, actually approached the museum with the idea of creating QR codes for free. “I have an old, longstanding connection to the museum,” he said — his mother used to be on the board.

Aubrey decided what to code by walking through the permanent collection, determining which pieces were seminal in each room.

Codes were assigned to those pieces and then Aubry supplied information on each artist to Smith, who assigned the information to the individual codes. The information is stored on Smith’s server.

The museum also has a QR code that links to information on its establishment and history. The code is on a sign in the lobby, just inside the front doors.

The whole process was completed in about three months. More QR codes may be assigned to pieces in the future and can be accessed with major QR Code iPhone apps and Android apps.

Codes also were assigned to some pieces in a temporary print exhibition, and patrons were observed using them there.

“It’s catching on slowly,” Dykhuizen said.

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