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An Italian museum is using cameras to gauge interest in pieces of art

This could lead to all kinds of improvements within museums and art galleries.

italian art museum tracking camera
Image: Istituzione Bologna Musei

As COVID-19 pandemic restrictions begin to be lifted, Italy’s museums and art galleries are beginning to open up. Now, new technologies are being developed to help museum and art gallery curators know which of their exhibits are the most popular.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, researchers from Italy’s new technologies agency ENEA have developed a system to give curators data based on how consumers are experiencing a gallery’s exhibits. The system, called ShareArt, uses a series of cameras positioned near an exhibit that study the amount and behavior of people who look at the exhibit.

The goal of ShareArt is to give museums and galleries data on how people take in exhibits. This can potentially lead to more optimized layouts and exhibit scheduling, as data is collected over time.

italian art museum using cameras to track interest
Image: Istituzione Bologna Musei

As of now, SharArt is being tested at one museum in Bologna, Italy. The Istituzione Bologna Musei has been equipped with 14 ShareArt devices located at various exhibits. The museum has already come up with some interesting results.

Not only can ShareArt see how many people are looking at an exhibit, but it can also tell where someone’s focus is when looking at an individual piece. For example, a piece of artwork at Istituzione Bologna Musei, Trophime Bigot’s Saint Sebastian Aided by Saint Irene, is equipped with ShareArt.

The museum found that when people look at Trophime Bigot’s Saint Sebastian Aided by Saint Irene, they tend to focus on a point off-center. This is presumably because of the unique way the artist uses their brush to create an “interplay of light and shadows.” This could help curators understand which parts of an exhibit draw people’s interests, allowing the curator to put better focus on those areas.

This is a pretty innovative technology. It could be beneficial in determining what is and is not successful for museums or art galleries. This could potentially lead to all kinds of improvements, like better lighting or more optimal layouts for exhibits. I could definitely see this as a technology that is adopted or replicated in more and more places.

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