Gallery One, Reception by the Public

Public Reception

Gallery One invited new visitors to discover the CMA’s exceptional collections within the technological context of the interactives, and inspiring professionals in many different disciplines to reconsider their projects. But this visionary installation opened as part of a suite of several new visitor amenities, including a new fine dining restaurant and café, museum store, and the museum’s 39,000 square foot, glass-enclosed atrium, all of which have contributed to the museum’s rising attendance. It is difficult to provide specific numbers for Gallery One’s influence on attendance, as there are no sensors located at the entrances of Gallery One. In the first year after the atrium opening, the museum’s attendance increased by 39%, reaching one of the highest levels in over a decade. Attendance by visitor groups with children has increased by over 25% since the opening. CMA also completed the first half of its fiscal year with an 80 percent increase in donations.

“I didn’t notice the actual art.”

The most interesting comment the research team heard was, “I didn’t notice the actual art.” Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 16.21.59Some visitors would interact with the lenses—clicking on artworks to learn more and playing the games—then ask a gallery guide or protection services staff where to find the art, which was right in front of them. They were interested enough to ask, however.

The Strike a Pose game in the Sculpture lens promotes the highest amount of social interaction; some associated visitor comments include:

“Was really cool. Had to critically look at how figures were positioned. Nice to have feedback from object and adjust accordingly. You literally play with the art.”


“This is the first interactive we did and the only interactive we did. I like this for the kids. It’s more user friendly and engages on their level. Brings the art to life for kids and makes them look for similarities.”

On the Epic Stories lens, 70% accessed an art object.

“All the topics are clear and easy to understand. Easy to read and not a great deal of info, just a quick nice snapshot. Very nice!”


“The convenience factor. You can look it all up right there.”

Visitors spent more time on the comic books, when compared to movies, in Make a Story game on the Epic Stories lens. Regarding Find the Origin, they commented:

“I liked watching the Stories Through Time, nice because I didn’t have to do anything, like watching YouTube video and I also got to learn something about art too.”


“Quizzing; the guessing portion made you look at them more closely, good doorway to interaction.”

The Lions lens showed the highest use of clicking on images to learn about the artworks (97% of usability tests). Visitor comments about the artwork functionality include:

“I guess the questions you would ask may not occur to you to ask. More questions may prompt you to think about it more.”

A lower percentage of people played Cast a Vote game (23% of usability participants) on the Lions lens, but those who did stayed for a relatively long time (2:49).

The Painting lens analytics show that 77% of users clicked on an artwork to learn more, the most popular being Picasso’s Still Life with Biscuits. The Painting on canvas activity is most highly accessed game in Gallery One (over 5,788 to date), but Remix Picasso is also very popular (52% of usability tests).

The Globalism lens had a high number of artworks clicked to learn more (93%), and both games were frequently used. Visitor comments

“The game because we’re like children its fun to mix and match the influences”.


“Matching the influences and making aware of how they are connected and seeing examples.”

The analytics for the Thirties lens were revealing. The average watch time for the three-minute video was 1:53, indicating that most visitors leave before completion. Visitor comments include:

“Video gives you a lot more info and period of time. I like being able to see art in context, with people.”

The Thirties lens’ line-drawing game was very popular, with high staying power (2:44); visitor comments include:

“Drawing lines brought things up that I wouldn’t have looked at, related back to 1930s”


Press Reception

Heralded as a revolutionary space in the world of museums by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company,, and The Plain Dealer, among others, Gallery One received substantial press coverage. Materials needed for press had to be prepared in advance: marketing materials, photos and videos, publicity strategy and outreach required many hours of coordination and creation. This was all done simultaneously while troubleshooting iterative functionality.

“In the museum world, everyone’s watching Cleveland right now”

– Erin Coburn

said Erin Coburn, a museum consultant who has worked at both the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Though other museums have experimented with interactive technology, the extent of Cleveland’s program is unprecedented, she said.

“They’ve put a lot out there for other museums to learn from.”

– Erin Coburn, quoted by The New York Times, March 20, 2013

Colleague and Institutional Reactions

From its opening in December 2012, CMA welcomed museum colleagues (including September 2013’s MW Deep Dive symposium) from around the world who came to experience and study Gallery One. Directors, technologists, and educators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and many other top museums arranged formal visits to review and assess the installation. Year one saw formal visits from teams from over 150 national and international institutions. CMA Gallery One team members shared experiences and provided insights into process, and in turn received invaluable feedback from interested colleagues. Gallery One has enlivened the space of public access to collections in a remarkable way, not only to visitors onsite at the museum, but also in conferences where museum professionals are newly inspired by Cleveland’s example to be creative and thoughtful about engaging – Carrie Rebora Barratt, Associate Director for Collections and Administration, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Museum directors, exhibition designers, and interpretation specialists were not alone in visiting Gallery One and attending the conference presentations.

Technology specialists also tapped Gallery One as a game changer, for one consistent reason: it approaches technology and information management as a business would.

A digital strategy plan guides the collection and digital asset management systems balanced with modularity, sustainability, and data efficiency. Finally, what has struck museum colleagues about this project was the Museum’s institutional willingness to embrace digital technology, bring it into proximity to the art, and experiment with new and participatory visitor experiences.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 16.23.01

One museum educator commented, “The younger generation of museum visitors will expect a digital experience to compliment the art experience and the Cleveland Museum of Art has taken the first step to fully engage this reality, while also providing experiences easily accessible to visitors who aren’t “digital natives.”

As a truly new and innovative threshold experience, CMA’s Gallery One leverages great works of art and state-of-the-art interactive media to transform the traditional art museum experience into a playful and engagingly personal journey into museum collections. – David Harvey, Senior Vice President for Exhibition, American Museum of Natural History


Outreach beyond the Museum Walls

Most recently, Gallery One has captured the attention of other institutions whose focus is on engaging and educating the public. One example is the new Cuyahoga County Public Library’s interactive “Tech Wall,” which incorporates Gallery One interactives and the ArtLens app.

Visitors browse our digital collection in the library and are inspired are inspired to visit the museum. The CCPL’s  “Tech Wall” objectives were to provide a safe and neutral hands-on experience with technology; to inspire curiosity regarding technologies and digital services that may move someone to embrace that new technology and to expose and promote the digital offerings available in the library’s collection (or in the case of ArtLens,

Reaction has been positive and has increased library interaction and introduced the museum to new potential audiences and visitors. Library staff are adding “Tech Wall Tours” at the end of basic computer classes and including a demonstration/promotion of the CMA portion and plans are underway to create a kids/teens education program on ArtLens and Gallery One this summer.

The collaboration between CCPL and CMA has drawn the attention and visits from other library teams and leaders and inspired them to explore similar partnerships in their own communities.

An annual CMA highlight is the summer Solstice event which celebrates the year’s shortest night with a host of acclaimed international music groups attracting more than 5,000 party goers. In 2013, the museum’s stunning collection served as a dynamic theatrical backdrop for the Solstice, as the Gallery One Collection Wall was projected on the south façade of the museum’s Beaux Arts-style 1916 building at 8 times its normal size.

The wall display included artworks on view in the just-opened North Wing galleries—including Art of the Americas, Art of North American Indians, Textiles, Japanese, and Chinese—and teased party-goers with previews from the Korean, Indian, and Southeast Asian collections. After seven years of the museum’s gallery renovation, the entire collection was re-introduced to the community on the wall of the original 1916 building.

The Cleveland Museum of Art will continue to use interactives throughout northeast Ohio in places such as hospitals, libraries and possibly our airport to connect the community to our collection and drive them to our free museum.