Gallery One, Studio Play


Studio Play is a dedicated space within Gallery One that allows families to explore the museum’s collections and create art together through hands-on activities and interactive technology stations. Kids can use easels to create a colorful drawing, and parents can place it in a frame for all to see their work on the walls of CMA. Families can create a dramatic production with shadow puppets based on works from CMA’s collection. Education and Interpretation staff have also developed new live programs in the space, including:

  1. Art Stories, a weekly drop-in story time program for young children and their families in Studio Play, and
  2. Active Learning Experiences, a fee-based, staff-led, problem-based learning program for K-12 school students that uses Gallery One as a laboratory for critical thinking and team building.

“On the whole, I thought Studio Play was an uncelebrated gem, from both the design and content viewpoints.” – Ed Rodley


In the Studio Play visitors can also discover an interactive, multi-touch screen that allows them to make simple lines or squiggles. The interactive then reveals artworks that echo the same lines and squiggles, in shape or decoration.

Young visitors can play a ‘Sorting and Matching’ game – discovering art while reinforcing sight words. Images chosen from a broad cross-section of curatorial departments are presented with text and audio cues, challenging visitors to find two or three examples of the word in the images, thereby ‘matching’ from the random set.


Studio Play uses technology together with a deep understanding of the learning needs of young visitors to provide cross-generational opportunities for families to begin the exploration of permanent collection artworks in a comfortable, safe, and deeply engaging space. They also provide to the museum community models for using technology to connect with our youngest visitors.

The ‘Line and Shape’ interactive is located in the Studio Play area of Gallery One and is oriented toward young visitors. Using multi-touch, it allows users to “draw” lines across a small wall (twelve Christie MicroTiles) and matches those lines to those found within an artwork within CMA’s collection. The software searches through over 10,000 annotated lines within 7,000 of the museum’s artworks. From those lines and images, it chooses the artwork that includes a line that closely resembles the drawn line and composites the artwork under the drawing, so that the connection between the two becomes apparent.

“I especially liked the searching by drawing activity above. When you drew on the screen, the application did some mighty fast pattern matching to find an image in the collection that used that shape. Draw a curve, and you’d see that curve superimposed over the edge of a Persian bowl, or in the design of a tapestry. Trying to find a pattern that could stump the computer (not that I’d ever use an application in a manner it wasn’t designed for…) would result in your drawing getting simplified until it could be matched to an image. It was fast, it was rewarding.”
– Ed Rodley,  Review: Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gallery One – Part One

The application is written in C++ and uses the openFrameworks library. ‘Line and Shape’ is unique in that it is the only exhibit running on the Apple OSX platform. This is the first exhibit in the world to use the Christie iKit on a MAC. The ‘Line and Shape’ wall uses two linux computers to process the video across the twelve MicroTiles.

The ‘Sorting and Matching’ interactive employs two 42-inch, 32-point multi-touch 1080p displays integrated into a custom table, with a narrow beam line array speaker to support audio cues for the youngest users. The displays are mounted back to back and share a housing. ‘Sorting and Matching’ runs on two remotely located Windows 7 machines, and video and multi-touch is extended over Shielded Cat6 cable with digital extenders