How Technology Is Augmenting the Future of Museums in California

Art++ gives visitors at the Cantor Arts Center a new interpretation on art.

By Giaco Furino

In a small room at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center, visitors use technology to fill the room with information and transport themselves around the world. Art++, an augmented reality program on display at the museum until late September, uses a tablet and an app to better inform, entertain, and illuminate a few select pieces in the collection. From Jan Van Der Heyden’s 1660 painting, Houses on a Canal, to one of Warhol’s Mao paintings, the program presents a new move toward technology-focused museum curation.

Maricarmen Barrios, who heads up the Art++ program at Cantor, describes Art++ as an “interpretation tool” meant specifically for museums. “It was developed in collaboration between engineering graduate students here at Stanford interested in research into augmented reality, and with Cantor staff. The point of it is to have visitors understand the history, context, and art historical importance behind the artwork,” she tells The Creators Project. Visitors to the art center use a tablet-like device to view certain pieces of artwork, which do everything from providing additional written information, to digitally restoring faded paintings, and more. Barrios describes one augmented experience where visitors can see one of Andy Warhol’s Mao paintings, and by looking through the Art++ app, can use see all the other iterations in the series side-by-side. This is just one way the app helps the Cantor Center “create context for our visitors.”

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